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Benioff returns Ellison fire, but peacefully

Marc Benioff said he came in peace but managed to counter comments from former-boss Larry Ellison pretty forcefully this morning. He did his best to cut Oracle’s upcoming Exalogic “cloud in a box” down to size.

 The Salesforce.com CEO was clearly aware that he and his company had been a punching bag for Oracle CEO Ellison at the Oracle OpenWorld 010 keynote Sunday night.  There Ellison painted Salesforce.com as a faux cloud player and even took shots at Benioff’s book “Behind The Cloud.”

Walking into his own OOW event Wednesday, Benioff said: “You can say what you want about me, but leave my book alone. It’s not hurting anyone.”

Asked if he’d character Ellison’s new Exalogic super-server as “cloud in a box” as Ellison had, Benioff scoffed: “You tell me! It’s a BOX!”

Benioff said it’s an honor to be targeted. “You pay extra to be insulted ,” he noted.

During his public remarks, which featured Michael Dell, Benioff returned again and again to the notion of a “big, gigantic box, taller than me” painted with big Xs saying “keep out!”

He asked Michael Dell if he built big computers like that, “bigger than me,” and Dell said yes. 

He quoted a twitter post by Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels who apparently doesn’t see Oracle Exalogic as cloud-like in the least: “If you need to buy a big box to get started, it’s not cloud,”  Vogels apparently tweeted.

“You don’t have to build software and hardware together because they are togehter. I don’t really understand that,” he said. Oracle’s new too-long mantra is something about software and hardware engineered to work together.

No one gives a better come-to-Jesus keynote better than Benioff.  And, while he always draws a crowd, it’s fair to say that thanks to Ellison’s Salesforce.com bashing, interest in his counter-Oracle programming today got a big boost.

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