Oracle, Salesforce.com ink nine-year technology partnership

Salesforce.com will embrace Oracle's products even as the companies battle for cloud market share

In a coming together of rivals, Salesforce.com and Oracle have signed a nine-year agreement under which the companies will integrate their technologies and Salesforce.com will make a significant investment in Oracle products for its cloud computing platform.

Salesforce.com, long a user of Oracle's database, will standardize on Oracle's Linux OS distribution, Java middleware, and Exadata server platform, as well as continue to use Oracle's database, according to the joint announcement today.

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Oracle will integrate Salesforce.com's software with its Fusion HCM (human capital management) and cloud-based financial software, and Salesforce.com will also implement those two Oracle applications "throughout the company," according to the announcement. The specific product integrations with Oracle seem to position Oracle and Salesforce.com together against the likes of Workday, a rapidly growing provider of cloud-based HCM and financial applications.

"Larry and I both agree that Salesforce.com and Oracle need to integrate our clouds," Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement. "When customers choose cloud applications they expect rapid low-cost implementations; they also expect application integrations to work right out of the box -- even when the applications are from different vendors," Ellison said in another statement. "That's why Marc and I believe it's important that our two companies work together to make it happen."

The pleasant tone of Ellison and Benioff's prepared remarks belies the long-standing public rivalry between the two software executives, in which they have repeatedly lobbed verbal volleys at one another despite Salesforce.com's use of Oracle technology and Ellison's status as an early investor in Salesforce.com.

It wasn't immediately clear how much money Salesforce.com is committing to the deal, but the broad outline of the agreement revealed today suggests it is significant. It also seems to dim Salesforce.com's interest in exploring the use of other database technologies besides Oracle's, as some evidence has shown to be the case.

While not mentioned in today's announcement, Salesforce.com is apparently going to use Oracle's 12c database, which is expected to be released imminently. This could result in a significant architectural shift for Salesforce.com in the area of multitenancy, a concept applied by cloud vendors in the interest of serving many customers more efficiently.

Salesforce.com has used an approach where customers share a single instance of its application, with their data kept separate. But 12c pushes multitenancy into the database tier through a feature called pluggable databases. Ellison has called Oracle's approach superior and more secure than application-level multitenancy.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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