Marc Benioff was on his usual good form Tuesday as he kicked off the annual Salesforce.com Dreamforce user event in San Francisco.
Talking to the 14,000 keynote attendees, he used the opportunity to have his normal dig at Oracle, rolling out some of his favourite phrases that had been heard a couple of months ago at Moscone during the OpenWorld show. Delegates were again warned to, "Beware of the false cloud", and Benioff also once again queried Oracle's approach to cloud computing of needing to buy another box to scale up.
However, later at an executive session, Benioff was keen to play down the rivalry between the two firms.
"Oracle is our ally," he said. "I honestly don't see us as a competitor with them. Larry [Ellison, Oracle chief executive] and I have a friendly banter, but it is friendly."
Also familiar for OpenWorld attendees was Michael Dell's love of Chatter, Salesforce's social networking platform for the business. Dell now has 113,000 Chatter followers, and the firm told Dreamforce delegates that a strong training programme plus the support of the chief executive had been behind its rapid uptake.
Salesforce unveiled Chatter Free at the event, which allows current Salesforce customers who are using Chatter to invite their contacts to join their network.
We also got the opportunity - and I'm pretty sure it's fair to say this was the once in a lifetime kind - to hear from will.i.am on the benefits of cloud computing. The Black Eyed Peas frontman and Cheryl's BFF was in the keynote audience as a guest of Salesforce, and will be performing at the gala event on Tuesday evening.
Dreamforce demonstrated the huge growth Salesforce has enjoyed in its first 11 years. Benioff stated that there are 30,000 registered delegates for the event, although one of the Salesforce marketing team said it was more like 22,000 attending the conference. Oracle manages around 43,000 for OpenWorld, but that now includes the Java One contingent since it acquired Sun, so the Salesforce delegate numbers are quite impressive.
On Wednesday, we've been promised a major update to the Force.com app development platform, plus Benioff's thoughts on Microsoft.
The Redmond giant used the week of Dreamforce to try and lure Salesforce customers over to its own Dynamics CRM online offering. Microsoft took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal on Monday offering firms $200 for every user they switch from Salesforce.
As Microsoft has struggled to catch up with software as a service pioneers like Salesforce, this move will no doubt be welcomed by Benioff as demonstrating how much of a threat his firm is viewed as over at Redmond.
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