Oracle OpenWorld: Benioff's smiling assassin mocks 'Cloud in a Box'by
22nd Sep 2010
Cloud in a box? A big metal Oracle box with an X on the front? Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff comes in peace, but shoots to kill...
With Oracle CEO Larry Ellison having decided on Sunday evening that the Cloud is a big metal box with an X on the front of it, it was only to be expected that Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff would have something to say on the subject.
That would have been true even if Ellison had stuck to just pitching his new Exalogic Elastic Cloud machine. But the Oracle boss chose to pick on Salesforce.com when he questioned whether its definition of Cloud was appropriate compared to Amazon.com's, criticised its security levels and even took a pot shot at Benioff's book Beyond The Cloud which he branded Way Behind The Cloud!
So when Benioff took to the stage at a packed-out keynote session – with the Oracle faithful queuing around the block at the massive Moscone conference centre an hour in advance of the presentation – expectations were high for some fiery retorts.
But Benioff characteristically took the guise of smiling assassin towards his former boss. "We come in peace," he declared as he bounced on stage. "I want to thank Larry for the great advertising on Sunday night. When we come to this conference, we come in peace. We are the Cloud people. Because we are the Cloud people, we are peaceful. We're not here to attack anyone's book! Book sales went up on Sunday night – thank you Larry."
But the steel wasn't far beneath the surface. "I know there was some anger on stage on Sunday night. What is the Cloud? Is it the Salesforce.com Cloud, is it the Amazon Cloud?" he noted. "We're here to open a door to the future. I'm not going to show you new computers that are taller than I am. I'm not going to show you Cloud in a box because Clouds aren't in a box. They've never been in a box."
He added: "Beware of the False Cloud. It is not efficient. It is not democratic. When I tweeted 'Beware the False Cloud' during Larry's keynote on Sunday night, Werner Vogels [chief technology officer] at Amazon replied : 'Litmus test: if you have to buy more hardware just to get started it is not a Cloud'. I guess Amazon is on Salesforce.com's side...
"Things are changing in this industry," he continued. "It doesn't matter what you hear at this conference or any conference. There is massive change. We went from mainframes to minis to client server to desktops to mobile – and now to Exalogic big server things?"
The size of the Exalogic machine was a repeated meme. Bringing Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer, on stage for a cameo appearance, Benioff told him: "I went down the stairs at the conference and saw the massive machines that are taller than I am. You ship us lots of small computers. Have you thought about making really big massive mega ones at Dell? Have you thought about building barriers that are great big machines with Xs on them – sort of, 'do not come in here!'?"
Benioff concluded with his own snipe at Ellison whose America's Cup yachting success has been a backdrop to the OpenWorld conference. "Before I came on stage here, an Oracle employee handed me a flag for my sail boat. It says 'We surrender'," he said. "Well, I don't have a sail boat and we don't surrender!"
Update: Larry Ellison had his own comments to make about Benioff's comments later in the day. "The CEO of Salesforce.com says Clouds don't run in a box," he said. "So what does he think Salesforce.com runs on? It runs on 1,500 Dell servers – which are boxes. He was offended that the Exalogic box was taller than he was. He said Clouds especially don't run on boxes that are tall. You couldn't make this stuff up."
He added: "You do need boxes, you really do. We think that the boxes should be really efficient. I think Salesforce.com customers and Salesforce.com itself would be happy if they used Exalogic to run their Cloud."
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Oracle Exalogic is no more cloud than any server that is sold today. All it is a huge box with X on it an no amount of Oracle marketing can change that.