Salesforce Ditches Remainder of Sun Hardware

Sun has used as a primary case study of Sun hardware and software powering the future Saas platforms. The early versions of the Salesforce website and application even included a ‘powered by Sun’ logo in the footer, as part of a tight relationship between the two companies. But recently we learnt, and the register is confirming today, that Salesforce has been phasing out Sun hardware and Solaris in favor of Dell and Linux. The last of the Sun hardware will be making its way out of Salesforce datacenters during the course of this week – while the new, and lower cost, Dell commodity servers continue to replace them.

Replacing large-scale hardware with commodity servers isn’t a new trend – but what is more interesting is the complete vendor shift for Salesforce from Sun to Dell. Sun also provide lower-end hardware with AMD and other chipsets, but they are not able to compete on a cost basis with Dell. Salesforce has also made large investments in internal development as part of building out the core technology in their platform – meaning that they have switched their reliance over from vendors such as Sun to in-house technology. The foundation for this technology seems to be based on Linux, Java and Oracle DB – although Salesforce do not disclose the complete details of their stack.

That other well known large vendor to Salesforce is Oracle, who also used to be featured in the old ‘powered by’ footer. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was an executive at Oracle prior to founding the company, and the initial funds raised for Salesforce were from Larry Ellison. The relationship didn’t last long as the board broke up in dispute, leading Ellison to leave Salesforce and instead bootstrap and start competitor Netsuite. Oracle were featured as a provider to Salesforce in 2005, but since then both companies have been quiet about just how much Oracle there is underpinning the Salesforce platform.

Salesforce may have outgrown or out-developed Sun with a more efficient solution, but they have yet to do the same with Oracle. Ironically, it is the former of those two companies that has the better understanding of Saas and cloud computing – but the later that is seeing more revenue from it.