Oracle, Salesforce.com CEOs team up to discuss new cloud deal

In an eagerly awaited discussion (or match-up), Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff talked it out in front of media and analysts on Thursday.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Oracle and Salesforce.com are setting aside their differences -- for now.

That's because a good deal of potential revenue is on the line with their recently unveiled nine-year cloud services agreement.

Tuesday's debut came as enough of a shock on its own, especially as it looked like Oracle was getting the better end of the deal.

Then came the news that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff would be discussing the three-tier cloud venture in front of media and analysts on Thursday during a live conference call.

Ahead of the call, which was scheduled to start at 1PM PT/4PM ET, the duo gave more hints about the discussion in prepared remarks.

Benioff admitted, "Larry and I both agree that salesforce.com and Oracle need to integrate our clouds."

Ellison concurred, asserting that enterprise customers "expect application integrations to work right out of the box – even when the applications are from different vendors."

Given how much these two love to take shots at each other in the public eye, just the idea of this event seemed even more astounding.

During the call, Salesforce's founder jokingly remarked, "I certainly hope it's not the end of the fun. That's one of the things I enjoy most about our industry."

A Wells Fargo analyst quipped earlier during the meeting that he would have expected this kind of announcement to be on a huge stage with lasers and such, much to the bemusement of the chief executives.

The lovefest got going as Benioff led off the call, noting that the combination of Oracle databases with Salesforce's CRM services improves performance.

During an initial tag-team effort of reciting brief scripts, Ellison praised Salesforce.com as "the world's largest cloud company," promising Oracle will deliver highest level of security and reliability to Salesforce.

Benioff repeatedly noted that Salesforce.com has been an Oracle apps customer since it was founded more than a decade ago. But he quickly followed up that Oracle is now a Salesforce.com services customer too.

Benioff admitted, "Larry and I both agree that Salesforce.com and Oracle need to integrate our clouds."

"There's no better product in the world in the database area than Oracle," Benioff touted.

For the next steps in the Oracle-Salesforce relationship, Benioff predicted that the "opportunities are endless,"

Ellison acknowledged there are "some overlapping products" in Oracle's and Salesforce's portfolios, but he also said that "there are far more opportunities to work together than to compete."

"On the entire infrastructure part of the stack, we will work with Salesforce.com constantly on security," Ellison specified.

In terms of applications, Ellison posited that customers "like choices," adding later that those customers also "expect us to work together professionally."

"We're going to be users of these integrations and make sure they work for us," Ellison continued.

But beyond the lovey-dovey compliments and mutual praise, analysts wanted to know about how the Oracle-Salesforce cloud deal will face market competition -- notably from Amazon Web Services.

"On the entire infrastructure part of the stack, we will work with Salesforce.com constantly on security," Ellison specified.

Benioff immediately deferred to Ellison to comment on the topic, who briefly laughed before pointing out that the Oracle database does work with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Benioff followed up diplomatically that Amazon is an "important customer" of Salesforce.com, adding that Salesforce's Heroku is an Amazon customer.

Thursday's call wraps up (we assume) a big week in the cloud for Oracle.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based corporation started rolling out the cloud announcements on Monday with Microsoft followed by Salesforce.com one day later.

On Wednesday, Oracle popped up with another surprise directed at mid-size businesses in partnership with NetSuite and Deloitte.

The jovial call wound down with Benioff inviting Ellison to Dreamforce 2013 in San Francisco this November. Ellison accepted.

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