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Ellison and Benioff bury the hatchet and make nice

Chris Kanaracus | June 28, 2013
Oracle and Salesforce.com have signed a 12-year deal to work together.

Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff's long-running public feud appears to be over, with the CEOs of Oracle and Salesforce.com making a joint appearance Thursday to extol the virtues of a new partnership they describe as financially sensible and strategically pragmatic.

"The best decision we ever made is to go with Oracle" for Salesforce.com's infrastructure, Benioff said of a company he once accused of selling a "false cloud." Improvements for cloud computing in Oracle's new 12c database "are extremely important" to Salesforce.com and the vendor expects to cut its database server costs "in half," he said. "I couldn't be more thrilled to make this announcement with you today, Larry."

 Ellison, who once called Salesforce.com's platform a "roach motel" that is difficult for customers to migrate away from, had no such jibes on Thursday.

"Salesforce.com and Oracle have some overlapping products, but there are far more opportunities to work together than to compete," he said. 

The companies announced a deal this week in which Salesforce.com, long a user of Oracle's database, will standardize on Oracle's Linux OS distribution, Java middleware and Exadata server platform. In turn, Oracle will integrate Salesforce.com's software with its Fusion HCM (human capital management) and cloud-based financial software, and Salesforce.com will implement those products "throughout the company."

In a joint conference call with the two CEOs, Benioff revealed that the deal is good for 12 years, not the nine years originally announced.

While there had been evidence of late that Salesforce.com wanted to move away from Oracle technology, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Oracle has "always been there for us," Benioff said. "Now we're at a critical point in Salesforce.com's history. We have to make a decision. Is the infrastructure we've built on Oracle going to take us through the next one or two decades? The answer is yes."

While it has never been clear how much of Benioff and Ellison's feuding has been marketing-savvy theater rather than true animosity, the two CEOs treated each other with uncharacteristic warmth during the call.

"Salesforce.com has always been an important customer, but this is not about that," Ellison said. "It's about the partnership with Salesforce.com, making our products work better together. Salesforce.com is a big company now. Customers expect us to work together professionally toward the benefit of those customers."

The "out-of-the-box" integrations planned will help customers who use Salesforce.com and Oracle software save money compared to the customized implementation projects that have been required in the past, Ellison said. He also characterized Salesforce.com's CRM (customer relationship management) software as "market-leading," in contrast to his labeling it in the past as an "itty-bitty application for salesforce automation."

 

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