Ellison mocks Salesforce.com's 'itty bitty' application

The jibes come as Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff prepares to speak at Oracle's OpenWorld show

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison mocked on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Salesforce.com during a shareholder meeting Wednesday, saying its "itty bitty" application depends on Oracle's products.

"We think Salesforce.com has got terrific underlying technology," he said in response to a question from a shareholder about Salesforce.com and the competitive pressures posed by the cloud-computing model. "In fact, everything they run is on an Oracle database. We think the Oracle database is fabulous cloud technology. But they don't stop there. On top of the Oracle database they build their applications using -- what is it? Oracle middleware. Oh, my God."

Ellison's comments follow reports that Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff will be speaking at Oracle's OpenWorld conference during an "executive solution session." Salesforce is also a sponsor of OpenWorld this year.

His appearance seemed surprising to some observers, given the history between the two companies. Ellison was an early investor in Salesforce.com and once sat on its board, but left after a falling out with Benioff.

Indeed, Ellison's scathingly sarcastic remarks on Wednesday made it sound like the companies' rivalry has not dimmed at all.

"Let's look at their technology," he said. "They buy computers. They rent a room. Uh, they put the computers in the room. They buy electricity and plug it in. They then buy an Oracle database to run on those computers and then they buy Oracle middleware to build their applications. Oh, excuse me, and then they build this little itty-bitty application for salesforce automation. ... Most of the technology at Salesforce.com is ours."

In addition, a long list of companies have "chucked" Salesforce.com's software and replaced it with Oracle's on-demand CRM software, Ellison claimed.

A Salesforce.com spokesman wouldn't directly address Ellison's comments, but pointed to the company's successes.

"Customers are moving towards cloud computing and away from traditional software," said Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate strategy, via e-mail. "We have more than 63,000 customers experiencing success in the cloud. And, as we reported in August, the number of customers grew 32 per cent in Q2."

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