Salesforce's Benioff: "Clouds aren't in a box"

Salesforce's Benioff: "Clouds aren't in a box"

Summary: At a presentation to introduce Chatter 2, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff takes some jabs at Larry Ellison's definition of cloud computing.


On the main keynote stage of Oracle OpenWorld on Sunday night, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took some jabs at as he offered his own definition of the cloud - a preface to his introduction of a $1 million "cloud-in-a-box" piece of hardware called Exalogic.

Also: Oracle's Exalogic box: Cloud washing at its best?

Today, in a theater next door to the convention hall, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff responded to Ellison's jabs - and grabbed far more laughs that Ellison did.

The response: Ellison jabs at Salesforce, recaps Exalogic before finally previewing Fusion in closing keynote

Benioff, an animated character whose sarcasm goes a long way of proving his points, started his presentation by thanking Ellison for the mentions on the keynote stage, including Ellison's mocking of Benioff's "Behind the Cloud" book. (Thanks for the plug, Benioff said. Book sales went up on Sunday night.)

Benioff was in rare form, banging out one-liners that jabbed at Ellison's vision of what cloud computing is. Some of the highlights:

  • "We come in peace. We're the cloud people. We are the peaceful people."
  • "We're not attacking anyone's book here. We're here to motivate you, excite you, open doors for you and show you the potential of a new world - cloud computing."
  • "The cloud is a multi-tenant shared architecture that runs on a pay-as-you-go model," not a million dollars just to get started.
  • Salesforce loves reaching out to startups. "The cloud serves companies of every size. It's the democratization of computing."
  • "If Salesforce didn't exist, how many big servers would (Salesforce customers) have had to buy?" He also asks: What would have been the emissions and CO2 output of those machines?
  • Is Salesforce asking you to buy more hardware and software and issue patches? No. It's all just seamless on the cloud.
  • "Beware of the False Cloud," he said, as an image of a big computing box appears on the screen with a cloud lifted to show part of the IBM logo."
  • "We're moving to a new world. It's about next generation apps and next generation platforms."
  • And, as he wrapped up his riff on cloud computing, he held up a black and white "sailboat" banner that read "I Surrender," a move that prompted laughs when he told the audience that he didn't actually own a sailboat - yet another jab at Ellison.

The purpose of Benioff's presentation,however, was not to simply poke fun at Oracle and its CEO. He was there to introduce and demo Chatter 2, a major upgrade to Chatter that is being released next month. To do so, he talked about all of the advantages of the cloud, starting off by poking holes in Ellison's interpretation of it. On stage, he said:

We're not going to show you computers taller than you. We're not going to show you a cloud in a box because clouds aren't in a box. They never were. That's the whole idea.

His comments may have prompted some laughs but he was right. And just to add a bit of fuel to the fire, he showcased a retweet from Amazon CTO Werner Vogels earlier this week:

Considering Ellison was showcasing Amazon as more of a cloud company than Salesforce during his Sunday night keynote, the tweet from Vogels says a lot about who has a firm grasp on what cloud computing is all about - and who doesn't.

Topic: Enterprise Software

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  • Ellison is starting to resemble Steve Ballmer

    Their grasp of 21st Century tech is very similar.

    Ellison only has to do some funny dancing and throw a few chairs on stage to be like Ballmer, that's all.

    OS Reload
    • And dress differently, of course

      apart from the different dressing styles and the way they talk I'd say they are beginning to resemble each other a lot.
      OS Reload
      • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

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  • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

    If Clouds don't run on boxes/servers, where do they run? Where will my data be held? What runs the application? Is it magic? Is the firewall really made of fire? Oh my...
    • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

      The answer to all your questions is pine statuettes.
      Viva la crank dodo
  • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

    OK ill buy that. It actually makes a little sense dude.

    It's deja vu all over again. How may years will it take for the personal tablet revolt by individual users, after facing long update cycles and lots of locations where there is no internet access and no say in fulfilling their business needs?

    Anyone got a good guess?
  • Clouds are a severe thunderstomr with 2

    to happen.<br><br>But if people want to give up useless things like freedom, security, portability when the cloud provider goes bankrupt, intellectual property concerns, hacking, and so on, the cloud is the best way to go...
  • Clouds are a severe thunderstomr with 2in hail and EF5 tornado waiting

    to happen.<br><br>But if people want to give up useless things like freedom, security, portability when the cloud provider goes bankrupt, intellectual property concerns, hacking, long-term costs of renting others' gear and having one's own tangible system, and so on, the cloud is the best way to go...
  • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

    Ellison is a POD PERSON!!!!! RUN!! FLEEEEEEEEEEE.
  • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

    The best thing anyone and any company can do is to avoid doing business with Oracle. This vomit of comments from Larry is just a good example. Misses the point totally.
  • RE: Salesforce's Benioff:

    This is a typical tempest in a teapot. Technologically Ellison is of course right. Salesforce and Amazon "clouds" run on boxes. The difference is simple: Ellison is offering to run a cloud on 1 box instead of many and Salesforce and Amazon are offering to rent you infrastructure as a service rather than equipment to build your own cloud. Ellison is pushing the "you can make your own cloud with my tools" story and Benioff is understandably pushing the "rent my cloud" story. We aren't going to "discover" the true or real meaning of cloud computing -- we're going to make it up. (Think Humpty Dumpty: "Words mean what I want them to mean or I don't pay them on Thursdays.") And the question "to rent" or "to buy" hardly seems like the heart of the matter.