Oracle's Ellison: Salesforce.com is the 'roach motel' of clouds

Oracle's Larry Ellison struck back with a vengeance against Salesforce.com during the announcement of the Oracle Public Cloud.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison turned the spotlight from its mainframe focus on Sunday towards the cloud with the introduction of the Oracle Public Cloud.

“When you need a cloud, you just need a cloud,” joked Ellison during the afternoon keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 on Wednesday, “Everyone has a cloud. We need a cloud.”

The Oracle Public Cloud is based upon Oracle's Fusion Applications platform, a project that took the past six years of engineering before becoming available now.

The original design goals for Fusion Applications can be drilled down to the following five points:

  • Runs in the cloud and on-premise
  • Built-on industry standards (i.e. Java and standards-based middleware)
  • Service-oriented architecture for simple integration
  • Security built into middleware, database and the OS -- not the applications (no multi-latency)
  • Modern user interface with business intelligence and analytics built-in

Ellison repeatedly drummed in the importance of using industry-standard languages -- namely Java -- calling out competitors SAP and Salesforce.com for bucking this idea. Ellison later argued against multi-tenancy -- which Benioff lobbied for earlier in the day -- citing that it was the state-of-the-art 15 years ago, but that all the modern compute clouds use virtualization as part of their security model.

“They put your data at risk by co-mingling it with your competitor’s data,” Ellison said.

“The key difference is that our cloud is based on industry-standards and supports full operability with other clouds and datacenters on-premise,” Ellison asserted, arguing that you don’t just forget everything you’ve learned over the last 20 years with something new.

While the presentation started off softly enough, it quickly became the anti-Salesforce.com show, with Ellison taking every opportunity to take a hit at Marc Benioff's CRM solution and cloud provider.

Naturally, Ellison offered up a rebuttal to Salesforce.com CEO and chairman Marc Benioff's keynote earlier in the day across the street from San Francisco's Moscone Center, where Oracle OpenWorld is being held. Benioff's event on Wednesday was canceled by Oracle at the last minute on Tuesday afternoon, but Benioff's teams scrambled and got the show together (albeit on a much smaller scale) at the ritzy St. Regis hotel -- all thanks to social media in the cloud, as Benioff put it.

Benioff railed on about Oracle, basically saying that Ellison and company aren't "in touch with the sense of the audience," have missed the social revolution, and that Oracle OpenWorld, “has mostly been about a next-generation, mainframe computer.”

To that, Ellison reiterated vehemently what he sees as superior about the Oracle Public Cloud.

“Everything that we have in our cloud runs in Amazon’s cloud and other clouds that are standards-based,” Ellison affirmed. "Don’t try to move that Java-made application to the Salesforce cloud. It won’t run."

From there, it just became one punch after the other, starting with the attack on Benioff's famous mantra.

“Famous quote -- I’m not sure where I’ve heard it,” Ellison remarked sarcastically, “Someone in the industry said ‘beware of false clouds.’ That is such good advice. I could not have said it better myself.”

To put it more clearly -- if anyone didn't understand his disdain for Salesforce by this point -- Ellison charged that with Salesforce, "you can check in, but you can’t check out. I like to think of it as the roach motel of clouds. Now that is a false cloud.”

Ellison paid credit to Amazon, in particular, for its emphasis on building elastic cloud infrastructures -- to the point where Amazon put it into the name of the product: the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Ellison added that elasticity is one of the productivity facets essential to the Oracle Public Cloud, as well as monthly subscriptions, self-service sign-ups, instant provisioning, and developing and extend applications using Java.

Ellison said simply, “You have a choice, and I’m pro-choice. The guys at Salesforce are not pro-choice.”

Benioff has repeatedly argued that Oracle has missed the boat on social media, but apparently it’s catching up.

Layered within Fusion Applications is the Oracle Social Network, a secure collaboration tool built into fusion applications. The idea behind the platform is simple enough: it’s designed to enable employees to collaborate.

So far, the user interface and features look fairly standard (thus, boring) with task lists, the ability to create networks with the people you work with, etc. Although it’s arguably more attractive than SAP’s R/3 UI, which Ellison brought up on the big screen to make loud and clear. At least all of the Fusion Applications will run on mobile devices.

“True cloud, false cloud,” Ellison concluded, “You decide.”


Editorial standards