SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Salesforce loves Oracle?
Those exact words weren’t uttered by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff here at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference, but he came pretty close.
“We want to thank Oracle Corp. I thought it was fantastic we’re able to be here. Oracle is one of our key suppliers and partners,” Benioff said in his opening remarks of a media event that also featured Dell CEO Michael Dell.
|Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff
Photo: David Needle
Although rivals for enterprise customers, Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) relies on Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) for its software infrastructure and its development efforts and, as Benioff noted, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was Salesforce’s first investor and board member. This was the first Oracle OpenWorld in which Salesforce was allowed to have an exhibit booth and the company took a sizable chunk of space on the show floor.
The “best of both worlds” theme of Benioff’s remarks were designed to highlight how Salesforce’s cloud-based offerings can help companies large and small, regardless of what software they are already using. “We understand there are a lot of companies using Oracle and Salesforce, now it’s about how to bring them together,” said Benioff.
He noted Salesforce has over 63,200 customers, including many large companies like Dell, Stratus, Canon and others that also are Oracle customers. EMC’s CIO Sanjay Mirchandani joined Benioff on stage to talk about why the big IT supplier added Salesforce to its infrastructure.
“We look at nimbleness,” said Mirchandani. “We’ve made a number of acquisitions and we wanted a system that could cater to all of that. We took our Oracle systems and the best of yours [Salesforce] and put the two together.”
Having sparked the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) movement that evolved into cloud services, Benioff said the next big shift is Platform as a Service (PaaS). “The fundamental building blocks of systems are available as a service. You can now be pulling these things directly out of the Internet as you need them,” he said.
Michael Dell joined Benioff on stage as part of a flurry of appearances in the Bay Area. He spoke at OpenWorld earlier in the day and is also slated to speak at a Churchill Club event later tonight. Dell said cloud computing is one of the big IT trends, along with virtualization, that promises to transform organizations of all sizes.
In one example, he said SaaS is a great way for doctor’s to move to electronic medical records. Dell said providing infrastructure services in the cloud is “one of the reasons we bought Perot Systems, they’re great at that.”
Fast-growing Service Cloud 2
Salesforce’s fastest growing product line is its recently released Service Cloud 2 designed to greatly enhance support center operations by leveraging the Web sites and social media services consumers are rapidly embracing.
“Today, we type what we’re looking for into Google, we don’t go to the contact center for help. Or we try and find another user online on Facebook, or Twitter or community sites to help us,” said Benioff. “The problem is that’s totally disintermediated; the vendor doesn’t know about that interaction.”
Customers like Dell are using Service Cloud 2 to customize its help center by pulling in relevant content from social media networks and other sources as part of its support offering. Help center personnel use it, but consumers can also get the tap the same knowledge base that includes things like a post on Facebook showing how to add memory to a Dell notebook, at the Dell site.
Benioff also noted that with Service Cloud 2 information in the knowledge base can be exposed to search engines like Google and Yahoo.
Wrapping up the demos, Benioff had an associate translate the entire presentation, with a few clicks of the mouse, into Japanese to show off the flexibility of the cloud offering.