Oracle vs. Salesforce

The technology industry is built upon innovation, ingenuity, and plenty of moxie. Companies specializing in the latest and greatest gadgets all want to be the industry leader, the first kid on the blockwiththelatestandgreatesttoy. As a result, competition is fierce, often resulting in the leaders of major companies trash-talking each other, each trying to draw the most attention to their brand and raft of products. Two people known for this behavior are Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Salesforce has long been in first place when it comes to providing its more than 80,000 consumers with cloud computing services and customer relationship management (CRM). The company now finds itself fighting off competitionfromOracle, who recently acquired a cloud customer service company called RightNow, to better compete with Salesforce.

Enter the trash talk.

Marc Benioff – a former employee of Ellison’s – has become well known for maligning Oracle’s products, referring to their offerings with warnings decrying the “false cloud” – that is, a private cloud accessible only to Oracle’s customer base. Labeling the services as nothing more than repackaged goods, Benioff is now the target for Ellison’s derision. The Oracle CEO has lambasted Salesforce for its rigidity, namely the fact thatitcan only be run using Apex. Referring to Salesforce’s inflexibility as the “ultimate vendor lock-in,” Ellison intimated that customers who dislike change would always be happy with Salesforce.It’s entirely possible in a culture built upon fear that consumers will be scared away from both Oracle and Salesforce’s cloud offerings, choosing perhaps to support a competitive cloud like Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Marc Benioff calls the private cloud “inefficient” but no one expects a CEO to laud his competitor’s product.Oracle is doing its best to catch up to Salesforce, although the company has considerable ground to cover. Salesforce nets billions of dollars each year, compared to Oracle’s millions. Oracle has also not yet released its full line of products, including a social media network that will compete with Salesforce’s Chatter, a platform modeled after social networking sites like Twitter to build upon users’ interface familiarity.

As Oracle pushes further into the field, making a dent in Salesforce’s profits, expect the trash-talk to continue and likely worsen. Though Oracle was late to the game, choosing to take a seat on the cloud computing and CRM bandwagon only after it was made clear that technology is moving away from software sales and into the cloud, where users can access necessary office tools for a fraction of the price and hassle that software can bring.

While Salesforce is still the industry leader, Oracle’s purchase of RightNow elevates their chance of winning over consumers who are breathless for the next big thing that will make their businesses and lives easier. The fight between “real” and “false” clouds continues, leaving the decision about who to support up to consumers, as though Ellison and Benioff are running for political office and customers must vote for the candidate with the best array of promises – cloud competing, one might say.