Oracle’s New Partners Could Define Its Cloud Future

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison: “Remember all those rivals I used to trash? Well, um, let’s just move past that.”

Microsoft and Oracle have announced a partnership that will make the latter’s enterprise software products available via Microsoft’s cloud services.

“As part of this partnership Oracle will certify and support Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure,” Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Business, wrote in a June 24 posting on The Official Microsoft Blog. “That means customers who have long enjoyed the ability to run Oracle software on Windows Server can run that same software on Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure.”

At some unannounced point in the future, Microsoft and Oracle will add Infrastructure Services instances with preconfigured versions of Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic server, Nadella wrote, for those customers who lack Oracle licenses. “Windows Azure is, and will continue to be, committed to supporting open source development languages and frameworks,” he added, “and after today’s news, I hope the strength of our commitment in this area is clear.”

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s enterprise-cloud offering, with support for a variety of tools and frameworks. It includes Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) elements.

Microsoft wasn’t Oracle’s only dance partner this week: Salesforce will apparently standardize on the Oracle Linux operating system, Oracle Database and Java Middleware Platform, while Oracle will include Salesforce’s cloud-software offerings in the Oracle Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud.

“Larry and I both agree that and Oracle need to integrate our clouds,” said Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, wrote in a statement posted on Oracle’s Website. “’s CRM integrated with Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud is the best of both worlds: the simplicity of combined with the power of Oracle.”

That Oracle would even announce partnerships with Microsoft and Salesforce is a somewhat surprising development. Oracle has a reputation as a fierce competitor, one that would rather fire off lawsuits than join another technology firm in a strategic alliance. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has made an art out of trash-talking rivals, with SAP often drawing the bulk of his rhetorical fire; but he’s also launched verbal volleys against Microsoft and Salesforce over the years.

Past conflicts aside, Oracle also needs to bulk out its cloud offerings, and the best way to do so quickly is through partnerships with established firms. For quite some time, Oracle was reluctant to embrace the cloud with the same zeal as other companies, preferring to focus on its legacy business of selling integrated software and hardware stacks. But with its rivals earning lots of cash and market-share from their own cloud offerings, Oracle clearly saw it was time to embrace the future.

“Certainly Oracle would prefer that customers build and deploy their own Fusion applications on the Oracle Public Cloud, but the company is wisely acknowledging the market momentum behind AWS and Windows Azure and ensuring Oracle presence where its customers are going,” Forrester analyst James Staten wrote in a June 24 research note. “These moves are also necessary to combat the widespread use of open source alternatives to Oracle’s middleware and database products on these new deployment platforms.”

Other analysts concurred that the alliances are good for Oracle. “In this latest effort, [Larry Ellison] shows his determination to serve as the arms dealer for cloud infrastructure,” R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, wrote in a June 25 research note. “Announcements on partnerships with Amazon, Dell, now Microsoft and soon with and NetSuite show his determination to remain relevant in the cloud, though very late to the party.”

However, Wang cautioned, a lot depends on details such as pricing, as well as the combined offerings’ ease of use.


Image: drserg/