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Oracle the real winner in new Salesforce partnership

Oracle making nice with Salesforce was bound to happen. The two companies have announced a nine-year partnership agreement in which Salesforce will integrate the Oracle Linux platform and Exadata system into its datacentres, while Oracle will integrate into its Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud.

Salesforce is the figurative poster child for a successful post-PC era tech titan. Oracle, conversely, is more like the poster child for on-premise, big-iron laden datacentres of yesteryear. On-premise hardware and software certainly isn't gone yet, but business tech continues to shift to a cloud-based, virtualised world.

As with so many dramatic acts taken by companies, the partner announcement comes on the heels of disappointing fourth quarter for Oracle. The company had to do something, and quickly, to appease investors.

What makes the partnership with Salesforce so interesting is the contentious relationship that has existed between Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. In fact, at times their public feuding lapsed, quite frankly, into the realm of the bizarre. In 2011, Ellison denounced as a "roach motel" during his keynote at Oracle's Open World. Benioff in return called Ellison's presentation "low bar."

There were signs of a truce, however, when earlier this month, Keith Block, an executive with over 26 years at Oracle and a member of Oracle's executive committee, moved to to take on the role of president and vice chairman, overseeing the company's global sales, customer support and consulting services organisations. In addition, Block was appointed to's board of directors.

It's clear: Oracle is the company that desperately needs Salesforce and not the other way around. This partnership obviously has potentially huge financial benefit for Salesforce (otherwise the company wouldn't have entered into it). However, I can see Mark Benioff getting some huge smug satisfaction over Ellison needing him.

I find it quite telling that the press release about the partnership is on Oracle's homepage, but so far, there is nothing about the announcement at all on