Oracle, Salesforce & things that make me go ‘hmmm…’

SUMMARY:

Thursday will see Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison standing together and talking in unison instead of standing apart and firing barbs at one another. Will they have answers to all the questions surrounding their new union?

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Mentor and pupil finally united in the cloud?

 

You can tell this Oracle/Salesforce.com love-in is important by the company it keeps.

Whereas the earlier in the week announcement of  the Microsoft cessation of hostilies  merited sending along Oracle President Mark Hurd to chew the fat with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff gets Larry Ellison all to himself.

Of course Benioff is an Oracle alumnus and openly admits that he learnt at the feet of the master, always acknowledging Ellison as one of his mentors despite the at times rather fraught blow and counterblow of the cloud marketing wars in recent years.

The two will host a press and analyst conference in San Francisco on Thursday, three days after the two firms announced they will ‘unite’ their respective clouds, put all the ‘roach motel’ and ‘beware the false cloud’ jibes behind them and tie the fortunes of their two companies together for the next nine years.

In case you missed it, the highlights so far:

  • Salesforce.com will use Oracle’s Linux OS
  • Salesforce.com will use Oracle’s Exadata engineered systems
  • Salesforce.com will continue to use Oracle’s database, presumably moving up onto 12c when it finally appears
  • Salesforce.com will use the Java middleware platform
  • Salesforce.com will integrate its services with Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud
  • Salesforce.com plans to implement Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud apps for its own use.

All of that to date has come from a written statement from the two firms. The meat – and the gristle – of the deal will be chewed over on Thursday.

Pondering

There will be a lot to discuss on Thursday, but here’s a few random things I’m still pondering over.

(1) How is Salesforce.com going to avoid alienating Workday in all this? My colleague Dennis Howlett has already posed this question and come to some preliminary conclusions.

Salesforce.com itself has already made some inroads in the general direction of the HCM market with its Work.com offering.

This didn’t itself put the firm on collision course with Workday, but will the decision to take Oracle’s HCM – which is on collision course with Workday – be the straw that breaks the camel’s proverbial?

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MIchael Dell – Chatter champion

(2) Back in 2008, Salesforce.com chucked out out the last of it Sun Microsystems’ Sun Fire servers in favour of commodity Dell machines which Benioff said at the time offered the “highest quality/lowest cost”.

Dell is also one of Salesforce.com’s biggest customers with Michael Dell himself one of the enterprise Chatter pioneers.

Yesterday Parker Harris – Mr Infrastructure at Salesforce.com – said:

“Deploying Exadata engineered systems throughout our data centres will allow us to significantly lower overall hardware, floor space and energy costs, while simultaneously providing our customers with higher performance and better reliability.”

So where is Dell in all this now? Will the new Oracle kit run alongside existing Dell servers? Is Exadata going to be complementary or a replacement play? Will Michael Dell still be guest-starring at Salesforce.com gigs in the near future?

(3) HP dumped its Oracle Siebel CRM in favour of using Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Chatter and Force.com. These days HP is no lover of Oracle for various reasons.

I wonder what the chatter is inside HP today?

There would be a certain irony to HP subscribing to services delivered via an Oracle stack after ditching the old Oracle software so recently.

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HP – no more Siebel, but now more Oracle?

(4) Last year Salesforce planned to hire “40-50 people next year for a huge PostgreSQL project @ Salesforce”.

PostgreSQL is an open source database and many commentators had assumed this was part of Salesforce.com’s bid to lessen its behind the scenes dependence on Oracle tech.

According to those in the know, Salesforce.com continues to dabble with PostgreSQL. But the announcement of a nine year tie-in with the Oracle stack has to raise the question of  they’re planning on doing with the open source project?

(5) Why a nine year deal? Seems a strange number to choose – and a long time to tie yourself into a technology stack.

(6) How will Salesforce.com manage the messaging around this deal? The inevitable ‘Larry just made a down payment on Salesforce.com’ comments have flown around over the past 24 hours.

I can’t imagine Salesforce.com will be all that keen on an “Oracle takeover/merger” meme being allowed to run rampant. So the correct note will need to be struck: together, but apart.

(7) How will SAP react to this radical repositioning of friends and foes in the cloud market?

(8) Who gets to speak first – Marc or Larry?

OK, the last one’s kinda flippant admittedly, but I’m genuinely interested in what the positioning will be on the other points.

Verdict

Is it Thursday yet?

Disclosure: at time of writing Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP and Workday are all premium partners of diginomica.