Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff: A cloud bromance for the ages

The Ellison and Benioff show was a great example of how competition turns to co-opetition and then true love once there are enough enterprise dollars at stake.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, two tech luminaries who have had a history of highly publicized barbs, held a conference call to explain the companies' recent strategic partnership. You could almost see the doves being let loose and Lionel Ritchie's "Endless Love" playing in the background. Yes kids, Ellison and Benioff have the tech industry's best bromance at the moment.


For anyone covering the Salesforce and Oracle battle over the cloud, its definition and customers, the conference call with Ellison and Benioff was just as stunning as the company's announcement that Salesforce was going to standardize on Oracle and use its HCM and financial apps too.

Reading between the lines, the Ellison and Benioff call was a great example of how competition turns to co-opetition and then true love once there are enough enterprise dollars at stake. Oracle and Salesforce have partnered because the two companies can make more money together than they could competing.

More: Oracle, Salesforce.com CEOs team up to discuss new cloud deal | Your new cloud boss? Your old software boss | Oracle's master stroke: Boxing, locking Salesforce in

In the end, Benioff and Ellison have entered into a marriage of convenience and business self interest. Oracle yields to Salesforce on CRM. Salesforce builds on Oracle infrastructure and uses HCM and financials. The two companies integrate and perhaps Benioff becomes Ellison's successor someday. The likelihood that Salesforce and Oracle zip past bromance and run to the acquisition altar has gone up dramatically.

Ellison said Oracle has evolved (indeed the company thinks this cloud thing is important now). Benioff called Oracle the best partner behind the scenes since Salesforce launched.

Let's roll the quotes:

Benioff: "You know, Larry, the Oracle database has been a key part of Salesforce 's infrastructure from the very beginning of our company 14 years ago. Absolutely the best decision we ever made was to go with Oracle. And now that (Oracle has) focused on the cloud, (Oracle has) made a number of improvements to the database technologies that are extremely important to us and we are delighted now to commit to this incredible partnership to another 12 years of using the Oracle database."

Ellison: "Our two companies are going to work together to jointly develop out-of-the-box integration between Salesforce's market-leading CRM application and Oracle cloud applications. These product-size integrations will enable customers to buy cloud applications from both Salesforce and Oracle. These pre-integrated applications will automatically share data and work together."

Benioff (perhaps blushing or maybe just exhausted from returning from a world tour last night): "Thanks so much, Larry."

Benioff (asked whether he is dropping the defiant tone and joining the legacy software club): "Over 14 years ago when we first designed Salesforce.com, we had to choose a database that would handle the transaction capabilities, the reliability, the security, the availability but also the transaction integrity, the concurrency, the backup, and all the things that are absolutely key to building and delivering mission-critical systems and scale. Oracle has been there with us when we have had problems. I also just wanted think Larry as well. (Oracle is) always there for us whenever we need them. They are a true partner, they've always been a true partner.

Ellison (who I picture blushing, but seriously doubt he's capable of such nonsense): "Thank you, very much, Marc. Again, I think Oracle has always evolved. The Oracle database has been around for a very, very long time. And, it's always evolved."

Benioff: "We're making that commitment to Oracle and it's such an easy commitment for both of us to make because there is no company that I'd rather partner with to be the heart of our database infrastructure been Oracle. Now, in regards to what is the next up with Oracle, and Salesforce working together, I think that the opportunities our really just endless."

Ellison: "The pre-integration of the application layer, the continuous improvement, the security and performance and the economy at the infrastructure level, are not going to come from a customer-supplier relationship but from a partnership relationship and that is what is very important to Oracle moving forward. We don't want each and every one of those customers having to hire a third-party or having to spend a lot of money to wire up the Salesforce applications to the Oracle applications."

Benioff: "This is a new world, this is a new time; we're in the third wave of computing and companies like Salesforce and Oracle working together are evidence that that's how it has to be in this new world because the value that can get creative is just going to be epic."

Ellison: "I'm looking forward to working with Marc and Salesforce for years to come, to tap on some of these exciting challenges and help the future arrived a little bit sooner than it otherwise would."

The call was simply beautiful. I have to go now and wipe these happy tears away. Great bromances choke me up. 

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