Oracle, Microsoft – peace in our time?

SUMMARY:

Oracle and Microsoft have declared a truce in the cloud that benefits both of them and should benefit the enterprise consumer of cloud infrastructure and services. Peace in our time?

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Ballmer, Hurd, Nadella

So where were you the day peace broke out?

When all those years of enmity between Oracle and Microsoft passed into a new era of reconciliation where the enemies of old become the ‘frenemies’ of the future?

Last week Oracle CEO Larry Ellison dropped massive hints about a new series of partnerships around the cloud that would include Microsoft.

Yesterday, the first of that series came to pass with a new set of agreements between Oracle and Microsoft.

In summary:

  • Oracle customers can run supported Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure.
  • Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.
  • Microsoft will add Infrastructure Services instances with popular configurations of Oracle software including Java, Oracle Database, and Oracle WebLogic Server to the Windows Azure image gallery.
  • Microsoft will offer fully licensed and supported Java in Windows Azure.
  • Oracle will offer Oracle Linux, with a variety of Oracle software, as preconfigured instances on Windows Azure.

Microsoft Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella said:

“With this, we have the official versions that are licensed and supported from Oracle directly available as part of their middleware stack as well as their applications that sit on top of that middleware stack. We think this makes Java much more first-class with Oracle support on Windows Azure.”

But there was no specific mention made of the forthcoming Oracle Database 12c which last week  Ellison pitched as:

“the foundation of a modern cloud where you get multi-tenant applications with a high degree of security and a high degree of efficiency, you at least have to sacrifice one for the other.”

Diplomatic posts

As is common on such diplomatic occasions, both sides made the requisite conciliatory noises about the other.

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Ballmer: “about time”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said behind the scenes collaboration between the two firms was no longer enough:

“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… 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.

“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.

“People wanted more from us. People wanted more from Oracle.”

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Hurd: “nothing but good”

Meanwhile Oracle President Mark Hurd – it wasn’t going to be Larry himself just yet, was it? – added that he saw “nothing but good” coming from the new relationship with the old enemy:

“Customers need and want more flexibility to adapt in a rapidly changing business landscape. This gives customers choice in how they access and deploy our software…It just makes sense for us to continue to improve our own capabilities but also allow customers the ability to leverage both of our capabilities together.

“Java is the most popular development platform in the world…Our cloud is an open cloud,. It’s about the [intellectual property], not the delivery architecture. The fact that more people get access to our IP is favorable. It’s good for our customers and therefore good for Oracle.”

Peace in our time?

So is it a whole new era in which the enterprise customer benefits from less open warfare among their main providers?

Forrester’s James Staten notes:

It’s easy to accuse Oracle of trying to lock up its customers, as nearly all its marketing focuses on how Oracle on Oracle (on Oracle) delivers the best everything, but today Ellison’s company and Microsoft signed a joint partnership that empowers customer choice and ultimately will improve Oracle’s relevance in the cloud world.

This deal gives Microsoft clear competitive advantages against two of its top rivals as well. It strengthens Hyper-V against VMware vSphere,as Oracle software is only supported on OracleVM and Hyper-V today. It gives Windows Azure near equal position against Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud platform wars, as the fully licensed support covers all Oracle software (customers bring their own licenses), and pay-per-use licenses will be resold by Microsoft for WebLogic Server, Oracle Linux, and the Oracle database.

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Benioff: united in the cloud?

The alliance also represents commendable pragmatism on Oracle’s part, he added:

Bring your own license terms aren’t ideal in the per-hour world of cloud platforms, so the pay-per-use licensing arrangements are key to Oracle’s cloud relevance. While this licensing model is limited today, it opens the door to a more holistic move by Oracle down the line.

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. 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.

Verdict

A sign of the times. And one that – if the peace holds – can surely only benefit the enterprise consumer of cloud computing.

Still to come: the formal launch of 12c and the already flagged up partnership with Salesforce.com that will see the two firms ‘unite’ their clouds.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has already said:

“Larry and I both agree we need to unite our clouds. Oracle is a very important part of our strategy.”

More on that when it comes.

 

 

Disclosure: at time of writing Oracle and Salesforce.com are premium partners of diginomica.