So much for exclusivity. A few months ago Salesforce.com seemed to profess an intention to run on Oracle hardware as well as software, although many doubted very much that this would happen. Fast forward to Monday when Salesforce.com announced plans to work with Oracle arch-rival Hewlett-Packard on a specialized “superpod” putting Salesforce software on HP hardware for enterprise workloads. That’s a PR coup for HP’s converged hardware which, like Oracle’s Exa-boxes, seems to be on the wrong end of history as more workloads flow to inexpensive, scale-out hardware.
As always, we should treat these conference-led vendor alliances with a huge grain of salt. But it’s clear that Salesforce.com’s ties with Oracle have been tested. Oracle has its own CRM software as a service. Salesforce.com uses Workday, another Oracle rival, for HR. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has pretty much told the world he intends to crush enterprise software competitors. Salesforce.com’s push to hire PostgreSQL experts hints at a desire to open up beyond the Oracle database upon which Salesforce.com is built. Salesforce.com’s ownership of Heroku, with its strong managed Postgres offering fueled that flame.
As in most cases, the truth about what Salesforce.com will do for infrastructure is probably complicated. Benioff was an Oracle executive before he founded Salesforce.com 15 years ago and has an, um complicated, relationship with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Salesforce.com probably can’t jettison Oracle databases and middleware entirely but it can hedge its bets — it’s its fiduciary responsibility to do so.