Salesforce unfazed by Oracle competition in cloud computing

Oracle's colorful CEO Larry Ellison took shots at upstart Salesforce.com, but the company remains undeterred by competition. Salesforce has enabled business-line managers to quickly program for the cloud.

Last week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reversed his initial claims that cloud computing is "complete gibberish," saying the tech giant would soon begin carving out its own niche in this new frontier.

In a classic shot-from-the-hip statement, Ellison set his sights on smaller competitor Salesforce.com, a competitor in customer relationship management (CRM).

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 "We think we can be very competitive against Salesforce.com," Ellison said in a widely reported conversation. "Virtually every time we compete with them on large deals and with large customers, we win and, in some cases, replace them."

Bruce Francis, Salesforce.com's VP of corporate strategy, calmly dismisses such assertions.

"I think that Oracle is saying, 'It's the end of software' is great for cloud computing," Francis said. "Every time Oracle says cloud computing is the way to go, it brings us more deals."

Breaking into Oracle's stronghold

At 9 years old, the San Francisco-based CRM vendor has broken $1 billion in revenue. It has evolved from an application service provider to a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider and now embraces the concept of cloud computing. Its SaaS offerings allow any of its 60,000 customers to develop custom environments that hook into on-demand resources. While the company continues to look for a broader market, CRM and sales force applications remain the core business.

Much of Salesforce.com's advantage comes from its ability to find advocates outside IT, a traditional stronghold for Oracle.

Every time Oracle says cloud computing is the way to go, it brings us more deals.
Bruce Francis, Salesforce.com's VP of corporate strategy,

 "We believe our mission is really to drive cloud computing throughout the industry," said Francis. "As the economy recovers, businesses are moving application development to the cloud."

Cheryl O'Connor, the worldwide CRM strategy manager at signal processing company Analog Devices Inc., said implementing Salesforce has made her job much easier. In fact, she can take on a share of the development task using the Salesforce SaaS offering and associated tools, said O'Connor.

Her team just launched a product that she began discussing with company executives six months ago. O'Connor said the rapid development time surprised some, who expected a much longer development cycle.

O'Connor can mock up new application interactions quickly with the canvas Salesforce.com provides. "It makes you look like a hero," said O'Connor.

O'Connor said she deployed Salesforce.com on her project's budget without involving IT in the mix. Still, she concedes that as time goes on and Analog Devices' use of Salesforce grows increasingly complex, IT has ecome more involved. At the heart of the Salesforce platform is a proprietary language known as Apex. Salesforce provides various design tools that can abstract-out the core language's complexity, allowing business user to 'write' applications.

As for the coming competition from Oracle, Francis said Salesforce is not worried about pitting its off-premise model against Oracle's still largely on-premise model. "We welcome the chance to do so," said Francis. "We love Oracle talking about cloud computing."

Rob Barry is a news writer for SearchSOA.com. For more on the cloud, check out our Troposphere blog.

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