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Was Marc Benioff at Oracle OpenWorld As A Nod to Oracle's Move toward The Cloud?

Cloud computing is here to stay, which is a certainty that even Larry Ellison embraces, even for all his posturing with Salesforce.com founder—and self-proclaimed “cloud-computing evangelist”—Marc Benioff. Last week at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, Ellison announced that a full version of Oracle Fusion applications would be available next year, marking the company’s first serious SaaS offering.

Prior to Ellison’s keynote announcement of Oracle Fusion apps, the other buzzed-about speech was the one given by Benioff, mostly because he and Ellison have exchanged thinly-veiled insults for quite a while. Ellison has historically balked at cloud-computing, even though he was one of Salesforce’s first investors. During his speech, Benioff painted Oracle as a bit of a straggler for their favoring on-premise solutions, but also made digs about Oracle’s being more suited to large enterprises, while Salesforce is accessible to businesses of all sizes. Even though Oracle products have been a ground station for many cloud-computing vendors (including Salesforce.com, which uses the Oracle database to support its service), perhaps Benioff’s presence and speech were more a nod to Oracle’s future in SaaS than anything else.

Of course, just because Oracle has pledged to the cloud-computing club doesn’t mean initiation will be easy: some tech pundits note that making a shift to SaaS at this stage of the “game” could mean having to change your business model. Still, Oracle will have a solid stable of on-premise products to cushion the blow of any on-demand failures. There is also the fact that while cloud-computing is wildly popular (and undoubtedly the future), legacy applications haven’t been eradicated yet, and there is still a demand for traditional licensing.