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Oracle-Microsoft Cloud Partnership Provides Benefits for Both Vendors, but What About the Customers?

Microsoft and Oracle have announced a new partnership whereby customers will be able to run workloads in an Azure environment linked to database and other services in the Oracle Cloud.

The primary use case provided for leveraging this partnership focuses on customers running Oracle ERP or application services in the Azure cloud against Oracle’s autonomous database in the Oracle Cloud.

Microsoft is providing single sign-on and automated user provisioning to customers of the interoperability services via Active Directory across both clouds. This functionality is currently in preview mode only.

Notable quotes from both companies’ executives:

Microsoft's Scott Guthrie, EVP Microsoft Cloud, and AI Division states, “With Oracle's enterprise expertise, this alliance is a natural choice for us as we help our joint customers accelerate the migration of enterprise applications and databases to the public cloud.”

Oracle’s Don Johnson, EVP Oracle Cloud Infrastructure states, “Oracle and Microsoft have served enterprise customer needs for decades. With this partnership, our joint customers can migrate their entire set of existing applications to the cloud without having to re-architect anything, preserving the large investments they have already made.”

This service is currently being launched in one US region from each vendor, with both companies investing in a mega-pipe to ostensibly ensure a high bandwidth data channel with low latency and high performance. Both companies stand to benefit from this arrangement, as it should provide another alternative in the hybrid/multi-cloud operating models increasing in popularity. Which enterprise will benefit more remains to be seen.

Our Take

Proceed with caution here. Traditional software development best practices have avoided decoupling the application layer from the database layer of the technology stack, as it can be a root cause for all manner of operational and performance shortcomings. Add to this the complexity of operating a split environment across two of the enterprise mega-vendors, both guilty of designing systems to maximize vendor lock-in, and this may be a recipe for disaster. Now CIOs have to worry not only about an outage with one cloud provider but with two and for crucial systems of record. So a disruption in one really is an outage in both for a shared workload. It is also unclear how the licensing and permissions around the transfer of data and workloads between clouds will be allowed and under what circumstances.

This partnership does represent a new front in the open ecosystem concept, which is a positive sign for overall cloud interoperability and the enabling of shared workloads. To see a closed ecosystem vendor such as Oracle suddenly become open to coopetition is a stunning reversal and may represent the beginnings of a paradigm shift of sorts.

Microsoft is leading the charge in the open ecosystem space with partnerships with Sony, Adobe, SAP, and now Oracle. Overall, I view this development as benefiting Microsoft at a macro-level (it is seen as leading the charge), while Oracle undoubtedly hopes to leverage the arrangement to drive adoption of the Oracle Autonomous Database and actually retain vendor lock in the database segment.

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