Yowza: Salesforce commits to Oracle hardware (!)

Everyone knew Salesforce.com (s crm) and Oracle (s orcl) were going to expand their relationship — Oracle CEO Larry Ellison helpfully preannounced that news last week during the company’s rather rocky earnings call. What was not expected –at least by me — was that Salesforce would commit to Oracle hardware, er “engineered systems.”
And yet that’s what happened, at least according to Oracle’ s press release. Salesforce.com has run on Oracle database and middleware (and perhaps on Oracle Linux, not sure on that) for a long time. But it also ran on commodity hardware. In fact, Benioff was really, really publicly decrying what he mockingly called Oracle’s “cloud in a box” a few years back.
According to Oracle’s statement: (note that it is from Oracle and not Salesforce, and the emphasis is mine):

“Salesforce.com plans to standardize on the Oracle Linux operating system, Exadata engineered systems, the Oracle Database, and Java Middleware Platform.  Oracle plans to integrate salesforce.com with Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud, and provide the core technology to power salesforce.com‘s applications and platform.  Salesforce.com will also implement Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial cloud applications throughout the company.”

Structure 2010: Om Malik – Founder, GigaOM Speakers: Marc Benioff – Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com

A Structure 2010: Om Malik – Founder, GigaOM Speakers: Marc Benioff – Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com

For context, here’s what Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff told me two years ago when asked if Salesforce would move to Oracle hardware:

“We’re 100% Dell. That’s 100% cheaper. Higher quality, easier, and open. Just like Facebook, Google, et al. is doing. No different. There is no internet service to my knowledge using exadata [sic] proprietary mainframes to deliver billions of transactions to customers. Our architecture is based on standard pc architecture. Commodity systems. Our uptime is at http://trust.salesforce.com. Does that help?

And this Forbes.com report recounts Benioff’s characterization of Oracle Exadata as “false cloud.” (The post, by the way, was written by Bob Evans, who at that time worked for SAP(s sap) but is now Oracle’s corp comms guy. Hmmm.)
Salesforce.com and Oracle spokespeople referred me back to the Oracle press release with no additional comment.
To be fair, things change and companies have to change strategies all the time. But to me this smacks of Ellison trying to drum up a market for his flagging hardware line.  I would also bet we won’t be hearing about Salesforce.com flirting with PostgreSQL again any time soon.
This story was updated at 6:43 a.m. PDT after the companies responded to requests for comments.