The clouds seem to be raining down on Salesforce. The company was uninvited to Oracle OpenWorld 2011. Oracle dumped CEO Marc Benioff from their podium, then Benioff spoke at a competing forum of his own. Quarrels have killed many a romance and in this case, generated a lot of attention for both parties.

Larry Ellison, ORACLE CEOThe cloud is hanging heavy over the heads of Salesforce and Oracle. The battle is illustrated in the fightin’ words exchanged between Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and his Salesforce counterpart, Benioff. Ellison threw down the gauntlet with his now familiar comparison of Salesforce’s cloud services as a "roach motel" an elusive allusion at best.

Oracle Public Cloud runs, of course, on Oracle systems and includes business applications, not the least of which is Oracle Fusion CRM. Voila. The root of the controversy. Salesforce is basically a CRM (Customer Relations Management) product. Whereas Salesforce has a track record in this arena, Oracle hasn’t substantially proven itself.

Pros and cons abound. Oracle takes a virtualization approach, while Salesforce leans towards multi-tenant which Ellison thinks puts your data at risk from co-mingling. Oracle’s approach with their Fusion applications is to be able to move people and their work back and forth between on site and the cloud. Plus, Oracle Public Cloud is interoperable with other clouds, such as Amazon.

Counteracting Benioff’s contention that Oracle just doesn’t get social media, Oracle points to its Oracle Social Network piece of its Fusion Applications which allows co-workers to collaborate. Thus, this app tweaks the nose of Salesforce’s Chatter.

Oracle is industry standard, Java based while Salesforce is proprietary which restricts a user’s options. Ellison said: "Don’t try to move that Java-made application to the Salesforce cloud. It won’t run." Oracle acquired Java in 2009 when it purchased Sun Microsystems. They plan to release Java SE 8 in the summer of 2013. Java SE 7 and Java FX should be available on Mac OS X in mid 2012.

Marc Benioff, CEO SalesforceOne industry source thinks Salesforce’s edge in this dogfight is that they understand the cloud and SaaS. In Oracle’s favor is its already wide distribution. Users can keep on using and doing what they are familiar with.

Benioff had the last word – at Salesforce’s own impromptu presentation held in the St. Regis Hotel across from the Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Attendees abandoned the Oracle venue and waited in lines to hear Benioff. The Salesforce CEO, once thought to be the protégé of Ellison when he worked at Oracle, said about the two of them exchanging jabs, "In my world, this is like tennis, we’re batting the ball back and forth. It’s not personal."

Does that mean all’s fair in love and war, and software?