SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones) — Oracle Corp. (ORCL)
Chief Executive Larry Ellison kicked off his keynote address at Oracle’s annual customer conference on Sunday with comments on cloud computing and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM), rather than focusing on Oracle’s strained partnership with partner Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ).
“Cloud stands in stark contrast to Salesforce.com,” Ellison said, calling out several ways in which he thinks Saleforce is not an example of cloud computing. Cloud computing, he added, “is a platform upon which you build applications. It includes hardware and software.”
The comments were a build-up to his announcement of a new product called Exalogic Elastic Cloud, which he referred to as a cloud in a box. “It is a hardware and software combination” that allows company to set up a private cloud.
Cloud computing is an industry trend by which companies and consumers access applications and data stored in remote datacenters, via the Internet. Private clouds run on datacenters dedicated to a single company, rather than being used jointly by multiple companies.
Cloud computing differs from the more-traditional approach of loading software applications onto local computers. Oracle is a champion of the older approach, while Salesforce is a pioneer of software-as-a-service or SaaS, which cloud computing enables.
Ellison did not discuss Oracle’s longtime partner H-P, even though he spoke after two H-P executive vice presidents who spent much of their time on stage putting a positive spin on joint products created during the 30-year collaboration between the two companies.
Earlier, Ann Livermore, the executive vice president who runs H-P’s enterprise business unit, said the two companies share 140,000 joint customers. She was followed by Dave Donatelli, H-P’s executive vice president and general manager in charge of servers, storage and networking products, who outlined a variety of Oracle software that runs on or in collaboration with H-P equipment, particularly in datacenters.
The bonds between the two companies, which develop and sell products together, began weakening last year when Oracle said it was buying Sun Microsystems, a competitor to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based H-P, for $5.6 billion.
The relationship frayed further when Ellison criticized the giant computer maker for pushing out former H-P CEO Mark Hurd amid questions about Hurd’s personal conduct. Ellison further inflamed H-P when he hired Hurd to serve as one of the database maker’s co-presidents just weeks later, prompting H-P to sue its former CEO for putting its “most valuable trade secrets and confidential information at peril.
The two companies may well paper over their differences throughout the five-day Oracle OpenWorld conference. But as of Sunday night, H-P was the only one making an effort. The new product that Ellison announced, for example, runs on hardware from Sun.
Oracle’s growing prowess in hardware was on display last week, when the company smashed both its own and analyst expectations for its fiscal first-quarter financial results. On Thursday Oracle said profits jumped 20% to $1.4 billion, while revenue climbed 48% to $7.5 billion.
Revenue from Sun spurred the performance, as did sales of software licenses. New hardware systems sales constituted $1.7 billion, or 23%, of total revenue at the Redwood Shores, Calf.-based company.
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