Photo: Julie Bort/Business Insider
Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff are taking their growing rivalry to the next level. The latest evidence is a new employment ad from Salesforce.com.On Friday, Salesforce.com announced it wants to hire 40 to 50 people next year to work on a “big project” using the open-source database PostgreSQL—a big threat to Oracle’s core database offering.
Salesforce offers software over the Internet to businesses. That software, in turn, runs on Oracle today. The rumour is that Salesforce may be looking at ways to change it.
This ad came just days after Ellison publicly dissed Salesforce.com for offering PostgreSQL to its Heroku cloud-computing customers while using Oracle for its bread-and-butter Salesforce.com app.
During a talk at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference earlier this month in San Francisco, Ellison bragged about Oracle’s eat-your-own-dogfood policy: Oracle’s cloud software runs on Oracle technology.
“Salesforce.com bases its entire cloud on Oracle database,” Ellison said, as reported by Neil McAllister of the Register, “but its database platform offering is PostgreSQL. I find that interesting.”
Naturally, Salesforce.com is a big Oracle customer. Larry Ellison helped found Salesforce.com and the whole idea of cloud computing. Salesforce.com’s CEO, Marc Benioff, studied at Ellison’s knee as an Oracle executive.
But as the two companies increasingly compete with each other, the CEOs are now on the outs. Benioff was removed as a keynote speaker from last year’s OpenWorld—so he set up a rival keynote across the street. He wasn’t even invited to this year’s conference.
Salesforce’s job ad appeared a few days after Ellison’s remarks. It says that project involves the “design and implement major pieces of the Salesforce.com core database infrastructure” using PostgreSQL.
Salesforce.com wouldn’t comment on the project, or the rumours that this was an attempt to switch away from Oracle.
“We’re always evaluating/exploring different technologies,” a Salesforce spokesperson told Business Insider. “We have a broad strategy when it comes to data persistence which includes not only Oracle, but also Postgres, HBase, homegrown file storage, etc.”
But some important backers of PostgreSQL sure are excited.
A company called EnterpriseDB makes money by offering commercial support for a version of PostgreSQL.
In the past four years, EnterpriseDB has grown its customer base from about 200 in 2008, to about 2,000 today, including Sony Online Entertainment and TD Ameritrade Ed Boyajian, the company’s CEO, Ed Boyajian, told Business Insider. (Skype and Instagram famously use the free, open source version, too.)
“Many of those customers have migrated off Oracle,” he said. “That’s our primary business.”
He added that when a company “of the scale” of Salesforce.com is seen making “making a big commitment” to PostgreSQL, more enterprises will view it as a viable alternative to the Oracle database, too.
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