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OpenWorld 2011: Salesforce.com v Oracle smackdown

Salesforce.com comes out swinging against Oracle's Ellison, Exadata and vision for the Cloud

The tit for tat going on between Oracle chief Larry Ellison and Salesforce.com's Mark Benioff has continued with Benioff sledging both Ellison and his push for mega appliances, instead of commodity hardware, to power the Cloud.

Speaking at a hastily put together alternative speech at a local San Francisco restaurant after Oracle allegedly cancelled his keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld 2011, Benioff said Ellison was "all about aggressive moves" -- referring to the keynote cancellation -- but said he didn't hold a grudge.

"In my world this is just tennis. We hit the ball back and forward across the net. This is not personal," he said.

Benioff said that if he was being aggressive in running his speech at the same time as Ellison's locknote, he had simply learnt such behavior from Ellison.

"Larry taught me to be aggressive," he said, "[Salesforce.com] is aggressive hitting."

Benioff advised Ellison to refer back to Sun Tsu's Art of War -- beloved of warring CEOs for decades -- and its advice that Ellison should not have cancelled his speech and simply ignored Benioff's dissenting views.

The Salesforce.com chief went on to attack Oracle's appliances unveiled at OpenWorld 2011 and argued that commodity hardware, rather than high-end super clusters were faster and more capable of supporting Cloud services, such as Salesforce.com's.

"Cloud is not about the mainframes prophesised by Larry," he said. "The reality is that it can be any commodity hardware. The hypnosis that the future is a new mainframe is wrong."

"[Using commodity hardware] you will do it ten times ten cheaper," Benioff said, alluding to Ellison's claims that Oracle's Exadata would deliver ten times ten faster data transfer speeds.

"You can cancel keynotes, but you cannot cancel innovation," he said.

In his locknote speech at OpenWorld, a visibly annoyed Ellison repeatedly sledged Salesforce.com's decision to buy Ruby application platform-as-a-service provider Heroku, and asked the audience time and again to decide which vendor offered "the true Cloud."

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