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The partnership agreement between Microsoft and Oracle this week could give large companies an incentive to move their cloud computing strategies forward, particularly those who plan to use public clouds.
The agreement between the two computing giants sets the stage for users now able to deploy key Oracle Corp. software, including Oracle databases, Java and Oracle Linux, with Microsoft's Windows Azure and Hyper-V platforms. They can also obtain certification and technical support from Oracle.
“For larger companies looking to move to a public cloud, and that haven't supported Oracle databases before, this is a pretty big deal," said Bill Wilder, head of the Boston Azure User Group and Azure MVP. "This will allow enterprises to more seriously look at running workloads in public clouds."
Wilder and others were happy to see Microsoft continue to inch its way toward acceptance of Linux with this deal that will see Oracle Linux supported. The company has sent signals over the past year it would rather cooperate than compete against the open source community.
"Microsoft has been taking steps recently to make Linux available for things like Azure," Wilder said. "With software like Oracle Linux available, I think it serves to enrich the (Azure) ecosystem."
The partnership agreement offers credibility not just to Azure among Oracle and Microsoft accounts in the Fortune 500, but to Hyper-V as well; a boost it could use in its competition with VMware Inc.
Until now, IT shops that wanted to virtualize Oracle apps would only be supported on VMware.
"If Microsoft wants users to move to Hyper-V, those users need to run all their necessary workloads in Hyper-V," said Mark Eisenberg, a corporate consultant that specializes in Windows Azure. "This (agreement) helps Microsoft move Hyper-V into major enterprises where Oracle's customer base is."
Microsoft and Oracle: friends with benefits
The agreement appears to represent a thawing in the icy relationship between the two rivals over the past couple of decades. At this week's press conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the relationship between the two had been quietly improving behind the scenes but that a more public alliance was long overdue.
"We are happy to be working in a more constructive way with Oracle," Ballmer said. "I think each company has had respect for one another. But in today's cloud computing world, the behind the scenes collaboration was not enough."
Besides being able to run Oracle software on Azure and Hyper-V, Oracle shops can also use their Oracle software licenses in Windows Azure with new license mobility starting immediately.
Microsoft said it plans to offer a range of software including its own database, WebLogic Server and Java in its Windows Azure image gallery. Company officials declined to say when that software would be available.