The coming together of Microsoft and Oracle is poised to intensify an escalating cloud war among the giants of technology, as the fight for market supremacy enters new territory.
Billed as a “cloud interoperability partnership”, the agreement centres around enabling customers to migrate and run mission-critical enterprise workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.
Specifically, enterprises can now connect Azure services, such as analytics and artificial intelligence, to Oracle Cloud services, like autonomous database.
The aim is to deliver a “highly optimised, best-of-both-clouds” experience, through a “one-stop shop” for business critical cloud services and applications.
Unsurprisingly, the obvious target of the partnership is Amazon Web Services (AWS), who continues to hold a commanding majority in an expanding cloud market.
“This alliance will enable customers to deploy mission-critical enterprise workloads that span their respective Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud environments,” observed Tim Jennings, chief research officer at Ovum. “From a customer perspective, this reflects the increasing move toward a multi-cloud approach, enabling enterprises to access best-of-breed capabilities in the cloud that are best suited to the needs of complex business applications.”
Jennings added that from a technology perspective, Microsoft and Oracle have addressed the “key issues” of interoperability including direct interconnect between clouds and integrated identity management, backed up by a collaborative support agreement.
“From a market perspective, the "co-opetition" agreement acknowledges the needs and preferences of joint customers,” Jennings explained. “While Oracle intends to continue competing with the hyper-scale cloud providers, it recognises that its cloud strategy will be best served by focusing on its strengths, including its autonomous database and its cloud application portfolio, particularly in the predominant multi-cloud environment.”
According to both vendors, connecting Azure and Oracle Cloud through network and identity interoperability makes lift-and-improve migrations “seamless” for customers.
In addition, the agreement enables scenarios such as running Oracle E-Business Suite or Oracle JD Edwards on Azure against an Oracle Autonomous Database running on Exadata infrastructure in the Oracle Cloud.
“For Microsoft, the agreement increases the scope of its cloud partnership arrangements, enables access to the significant Oracle database market, and provides increased choice for the large number of joint Microsoft and Oracle customers,” Jennings said.
“Microsoft and Oracle will still be competitors in the cloud market, but the agreement is a recognition that each has a specific skill set, or capability, and that enabling these to be delivered in a coherent and connected manner will provide significant value to customers with a multi-cloud strategy.”
Jennings said that for customers considering the move of core mission-critical workloads, the ability to combine the "deep technical knowledge and performance" that OCI delivers for data management with Microsoft Azure's "rich portfolio" of cloud services enables customers to secure the "performance, automation and resilience" required to move enterprise workloads to the cloud.
“The range of platform services, business productivity, and collaboration capabilities that Microsoft Azure supports helps the customer make the transition to a familiar cloud environment and enables the wider benefits offered by the Azure ecosystem,” Jennings added.
On the flip side, and specific to Oracle, Jennings said there is an “underlying acknowledgment” that Microsoft has a larger cloud platform footprint with strong penetration in the enterprise market, including of course its Office applications.
“Oracle, on the other hand, has a strong position in the database market and a compelling portfolio of business applications, and its autonomous database capabilities are market leading,” Jennings said.
“Many enterprise customers choose to run their enterprise applications, test, dev, and custom workloads in the same cloud, and there is a greater propensity to select a hyper-scale cloud provider such as Microsoft for these workloads.
“However, if customers can get a direct connection to Oracle Autonomous Database running in the Oracle Cloud, that gives enterprises the best of both worlds - a fully managed Oracle database and the customer's preferred platform for enterprise workloads with the associated performance, latency, and security benefits provided by direct private connectivity between the two.”