The joint conference call for press and analysts between Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff was both more and less than expected. It was weird to hear them talking to each other in complementary terms rather than firing shots across each other’s bows but all that history was more show than anything else, I think. To net it out the two companies will be more cooperative in some of the lower ends of the technology stack that have effectively commoditized anyhow. Interestingly, Salesforce will begin using Oracle Exadata as well.
It was clear that this was a conversation between equals. The two men might be separated in time by two decades and one might have mentored the other earlier in his career, but clearly they have a single vision and the desire to make it real.
It is now clear that the two companies will continue along their independent paths but that critical parts of their technologies will of necessity overlap and the companies will jointly support the integrations. So for instance, the companies’ greatest overlap will be in developing plug and play integration between Salesforce CRM and Oracle applications, presumably HCM and ERP. As Ellison said, “Oracle will continue to sell Oracle apps, Salesforce will continue to sell Salesforce apps but we will both sell the productized integration.” Ellison’s vision is that a customer can go to either vendor’s application sales venue and “press a button” to download the integration and it will begin working right away.
Regardless of anything else happening, expect Oracle to continue selling its wares. So for the moment it appears that Oracle Fusion CRM apps have a future as does HCM, which Salesforce does not offer a competing product for though it complicates the Salesforce AppExchange ecosystem to a degree because HR applications like Jobscience are available there and some overlap is inevitable.
On the hardware side, Salesforce will use Oracle Exadata a database server that delivers huge performance improvements over conventional storage and a solution ideally made to support big data in big clouds.
Some things we did not find out — Will Marc be invited back to OpenWorld? There was no mention of it though Marc graciously invited Larry to Dreamforce in November and Larry accepted. Watch this space.
For now, the vision is the thing for both parties. As Benioff said, “We’re in a new world, the third wave of computing with billions of computers and everything is on the network.” He was right too and one way to read the developments of the last week is to conclude that the first wave of cloud computing or Cloud I is over and that the next wave, which will include the Internet of things, i.e. billions of devices connected to the network capturing enormous amounts of data, is potentially so big that the major companies decided to clear the decks to get ready for it.
A world with billions of devices is like nothing we’ve prepared for. It involves devices mediating all kinds of processes. For example, Benioff noted that he was wearing two small devices and had been investigating ingestible computing as recently as last week. And Ellison discussed using small cheap computers to optimize drip irrigation to enable us to manage water and other precious resources. I think they’re on to something with that.
There is wonderful symmetry in all of this. You can draw a line through this year’s title, “Race Against the Machine” by Brynjolfsson and McAfee through Ellison’s resource statement and Benioff’s vision of the opportunities ahead plus Oracle’s announcements this week with Microsoft and Salesforce and you will have a tantalizing vision of the future.
The next wave of human endeavor and the next economic K-wave is very likely to involve optimizing this small planet to accommodate all the people who want to live here. There will be huge opportunities to deliver value, which Benioff described more than once as “epic”. The next wave will be built on the shoulders of those that came before and none more so than IT. Ellison and Benioff understand that; perhaps they don’t have all the particulars but they uniquely have the vision and the resources to fill in the details.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research, LLC)