Ellison unveils new cloud, trashes Salesforce.com

The new service's open design is far superior to Salesforce.com's 'roach motel,' according to Ellison

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on Wednesday unveiled a public cloud service that will run its Fusion Applications and others, and while doing so delivered a withering broadside against competitors, with his harshest words for Salesforce.com.

"Our cloud's a little bit different. It's both platform as a service and applications as a service," he said during a keynote address at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, which was webcast. "The key part is that our cloud is based on industry standards and supports full interoperability with other clouds. Just because you go to the cloud doesn't mean you forget everything about information technology from the past 20 years."

[ Also on InfoWorld: IBM responds to Oracle smack talk with barbed sales pitch. | And in other news from OpenWorld: Oracle fleshes out its cloud plans. | In the data center today, the action is in the private cloud. InfoWorld's experts take you through what you need to know to do it right in our "Private Cloud Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Also check out our "Cloud Security Deep Dive," our "Cloud Storage Deep Dive," and our "Cloud Services Deep Dive." ]

In contrast, Salesforce.com's Force.com platform is the "roach motel" of cloud services, amounting to "the ultimate vendor lock-in" due to its use of custom programming languages like Apex. In contrast, the Oracle Public Cloud uses Java, SQL, XML, and other standards, Ellison said.

"You can check in but you can't check out" of Salesforce.com, Ellison said to laughter from the OpenWorld crowd. "It's like an airplane, you fly into the cloud and you never get out. It's not a good thing."

Salesforce.com may have bought Heroku, a cloud application platform that supports Java, but customers shouldn't be fooled, Ellison claimed.

"They say, 'Oh, we just bought Heroku. It runs Java.' [But] it's sort of like a Salesforce.com version of Java that only runs in Heroku. Don't try to move that [Java Enterprise Edition] application to the Salesforce.com cloud. It won't run. If you build something in Heroku you can't move it. It's a derivative of Java."

In contrast, "you can take any existing Oracle database you have and move it to our cloud," Ellison said. "You can just move it across and it runs unchanged. Oh by the way, you can move it back if you want to. You can move it to the Amazon cloud if you want to. You can do development and test on our cloud and go into production in your data center ... and nothing changes."

"Beware of false clouds," Ellison said, referring to a favorite saying of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. "That is such good advice. I could not have said it better myself."

Ellison even trashed Salesforce.com's and other SaaS (software-as-a-service) providers' use of multitenant architectures, wherein many customers share a single application instance with their data kept separate. The practice cuts down on system overhead as well as allows vendors to roll out patches and upgrades to many customers at once.

But Oracle's cloud eschews that approach for very good reasons, Ellison said. "That's a very bad security model. It's called multitenancy and it was state of the art 15 years ago. This is 2011. All the modern compute clouds use virtualization as part of their security model. You get a separate virtual machine, your data's in a separate database because it's virtualized. They put your data at risk by commingling it with others."

Ellison's evisceration of Salesforce.com came after the latest public volley from Benioff at Oracle, which rescheduled an appearance he was to make Wednesday at OpenWorld to Thursday. Benioff loudly characterized the move as a cancellation, drawing much media attention on Tuesday, while Oracle maintained it did so due to overbooking and space problems at the show, which drew some 45,000 people.

Benioff took Ellison's ribbing in stride on his Twitter feed. "You can't buy this type of advertising. Thank you Larry," one message from Benioff states. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," he said in another.

The Oracle Public Cloud will be available through subscription pricing, Ellison said. It will offer instant provisioning and elastic capacity on demand.

Ellison's announcement had been predicted by some analysts, as IDG News Service first reported last week.

Ellison did not reveal when the service will be available, but presumably the date is imminent or has already arrived, given that its marquee tenant, Fusion Applications, are now in general release after six years of development.

Fusion Applications are supposed to combine the best attributes of Oracle's various business software lines into a next-generation suite. The initial release includes some 100 modules. Fusion is differentiated from SAP, Salesforce.com, Workday, and other applications by the fact it can be run either on-demand or on-premises, Ellison said.

"You have a choice, and I'm pro-choice. The guys at Salesforce.com are not pro-choice," he said.

Ellison defended the delays in Fusion's release.

"It took a little longer than we planned but it was a huge, huge engineering project to present a huge integrated suite ... with all the different pieces rebuilt on top of modern technology. It's complete, integrated and finally here," he said.

Ellison described how Oracle along with customers "worked and reworked" the software until it was complete.

Security is built into the underlying infrastructure, Ellison said. "We didn't put security into Fusion Applications, we upgraded the infrastructure so it's built into the virtual machine and the operating system and the database. Anything built on top of that infrastructure is secure. That's especially important in the world of the cloud and the public Internet."

In addition, Ellison announced and demonstrated the Oracle Social Network, which incorporates social-networking functionality into Fusion Applications.

The system uses many of the familiar aspects of social sites like Facebook, such as information feeds and document sharing.

Ellison's keynote capped a busy week at OpenWorld marked by a slew of new product announcements, including the Big Data Appliance and Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine.

He delivered his remarks with noticeable good cheer, apparently unaware of the death of his close friend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, news of which broke toward the end of the keynote.

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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.