Salesforce's Marc Benioff tries to out-Oracle Larry Ellison

Salesforce.com's CEO preached the 'Internet of customers' at a Dreamforce extravaganza sure to stir Oracle's ire and envy

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Still, Benioff drummed home the message that behind every device and app is a customer -- not a cat scheming to rule the world -- screaming to be recognized. "Remember who I am and the loyalty I deserve!" Benioff thundered in his keynote. (He was, I believe, playing the role of a customer, not demanding fealty from conference attendees.) "The difference is a deeper level of engagement between companies and organizations and the people they serve," the IDG News Service writes. "Salesforce.com wants its technology to sit at the center of companies' strategies as they build out these relationships."

Or as The Register put it: "Salesforce's essential role in life is to let companies connect up their various tentacles so that they can move as one towards the hapless consumer, and ensnare them."

Dueling egos

At least Benioff showed up for Dreamforce, unlike Ellison who phoned in a last-minute cancelation to his company's show. Yachting called, you know. Ellison was also a no-show at Dreamforce -- "Larry is in Kyoto looking at the maple leaves ... I'll leave it there," Benioff said -- after accepting an invitation to appear. But that was back in June, when the two CEOs were carrying on a lovefest that saw Salesforce commit to using Oracle software to build its products for the long term.

Now Salesforce is cozying up to Hewlett-Packard -- the same company that sued Oracle after it announced it would stop porting its software to the Itanium chip architecture used in high-end HP servers. At Dreamforce, Benioff announced that customers who want their own dedicated infrastructure within Salesforce.com's cloud will now be able to get one, thanks to a new partnership with HP.

The Salesforce Superpod, based on HP's Converged Infrastructure hardware, is a private area in Salesforce.com's data center where Salesforce's software will run on HP's hardware. And HP will help Salesforce sell Superpods to other big customers uncomfortable with Salesforce's multitenant delivery model.

Salesforce's star is rising -- the company claimed this week to have 1.4 million registered developers, almost double the number from a year ago -- and Salesforce1 could help it grow even faster. Stay tuned to see if that rise upsets the tentative truce with Oracle and fuels further clashes between flamboyant CEOs striving to rule the cloud.

This story, "Salesforce's Marc Benioff tries to out-Oracle Larry Ellison," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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