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Oracle Taps Unlikely Rivals To Boost Its Cloud Fortunes

Two of the most flamboyant CEOs in the IT industry -- who have each demonstrated mutual disdain for the other -- seem to have buried the hatchet. Or perhaps they just decided to form a marriage of convenience.

Actually, it's probably more like the two renewed their vows. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison got together on a webcast Tuesday to say they have formed a "strategic partnership." Salesforce.com will use Oracle's suite of software, ranging from its distribution of Linux, to its Exadata appliances, the Oracle database and its Java-based middleware platform.

Oracle also said it will tie its Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud with Salesforce.com's application suite, and will implement it internally, as well.

Despite the trash talk between the two CEOs over the years, Oracle has long provided the underlying database for Salesforce.com applications, so it's hardly a major shift in strategy for Salesforce.com to go deeper with the company.

Oracle's more surprising alliance took place Monday when it hitched its wagon to Microsoft. While the two rivals have always jointly supported Oracle's wares on Windows Server, this official partnership comes in the form of an agreement to work together to support Hyper-V and Windows Azure, including offering license mobility for Oracle software and the ability to acquire it from Microsoft via Windows Azure. It also means the two companies are working together to extend support for Java.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Server and Tools Group President Satya Nadella, along with Oracle President Mark Hurd, discussed the new partnership during a conference call Monday. The companies did not disclose terms of the partnership, which takes effect immediately. Curiously, Ellison sat that one out.

Ballmer acknowledged a formal partnership and cooperation was long overdue. "It's about time and we're really glad we have a chance to work in this much newer and more constructive way with Oracle," Ballmer said, adding that the companies' chilly relationship has "evolved" in recent years.

"I think both companies have always, at least [for] many, many years, have had respect for one another and has done the work our customers wanted us to do, maybe behind the scenes, to get Windows Server and the Oracle database, application server and the applications to run," Ballmer said. "In the world of cloud computing, I think that behind-the-scenes collaboration is not enough. Frankly, the relationships between the two companies have evolved. Despite the fact we continue to compete, they have evolved in a positive and constructive manner."

Word of the pact came down last Thursday night during Oracle's earnings call, when Ellison revealed plans to cooperate with Microsoft, Salesforce.com and NetSuite in the cloud. Ellison also alluded to a new database coming from Oracle, called Oracle 12c, with "c" standing for cloud. Ellison described Oracle 12c as "the most important technology we've ever developed for this new generation of cloud security."

There was no mention of Oracle 12c on the call Monday, but what is effective immediately is support for Oracle databases, middleware and apps on Hyper-V and Windows Azure. Also effective Monday is the ability for license mobility customers to run Oracle's software on Windows Azure.

Coming in the future, Microsoft will offer a variety of its software, including its databases, WebLogic Server and Java, in the Windows Azure image gallery. The companies didn't say when the software would be available or which specific configurations, other than to describe them as popular versions.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/27/2013 at 12:49 PM


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