Microsoft paints the cloud Azure; Oracle gets lovey-dovey: the week in cloud

Is it an Azure world after all?

windowsazurelogoWhether you love or loathe Microsoft (s msft) or don’t care enough to do either, the company is known for plugging away at key projects until it gets them right. It exhibited that stick-to-it-iveness again last week by pushing both Windows Azure and Bing as platforms for new-age app development.
Among the announcements at Build 2013 were the general availability of Azure Mobile Services, the company’s entry in the Mobile Backend-as-a-Service market, and Windows Azure Websites, what it bills as an easy and quick way to construct and deploy a web site for both the .NET faithful already in the Microsoft fold and for those beyond that realm — like startups that typically default to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for such tasks.
Windows Azure Websites will let developers keep using the languages and apps they already love — even those in the open-source realm. Here’s how Microsoft put it:

” Provision a production web application yourself in minutes from the Windows Azure Management Portal, from your favorite IDE or from scripts using PowerShell in Windows or CLI tools running on any OS. Easily deploy content created using your existing favorite development tool or deploy an existing site directly from source control with support for Git, GitHub, Bitbucket, CodePlex, TFS, and even DropBox. Once deployed keep your sites always up-to-date with support for continuous deployment.”

Other news out of the conference was the delivery,  as promised, of a Windows 8.1 preview downloadable here. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the San Francisco event by talking up the benefits of what he called Windows 8.1 hybrids —  that can act as touch- or keyboard-operated devices — over mere tablets, like the market-leading iPad(s aapl).
Given Microsoft’s resources and the fact that since April, it’s offered AWS-like IaaS capabilities that it lacked, it’ll be interesting to see what traction it gets against AWS.

Oracle sings kumbaya

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Oracle is not known for working well with others, just ask some of its own best reseller partners. But in the past week, it’s launched very public rapprochements with (a long time Oracle customer and competitor) and (shocker) Microsoft, with which it’s competed tooth-and-nail in the database market. It also strengthened its ties with NetSuite(s N), which is less surprising given that it competes less with NetSuite in the field and that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison still owns a big chunk of that company.
All of these deals make sense as Oracle tries to position itself as an arms dealer to the cloud. To do that it needs to make its bread-and-butter database run on every platform available.
The deal is interesting given that Salesforce was built on Oracle database technology 14 years ago and has run on it ever since, but the two companies agreed to make Oracle HCM and other apps work “perfectly” with Salesforce CRM and to run each other’s technology in house. The initial Oracle statement said that would “standardize on the Oracle Linux operating system, Exadata engineered systems, the Oracle Database, and Java Middleware Platform. Oracle plans to integrate with Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud, and provide the core technology to power‘s applications and platform. will also implement Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial cloud applications throughout the company.”
Standardize is a very big word, and one that was not repeated in Thursday’s conference call co-starring Ellison and CEO Marc Benioff. After that call, insiders told me that it is not ripping and replacing all of its existing hardware for Exadata at all. Nor is it replacing all of its human resources applications, including Workday (s wday), with Oracle HCM.
Skeptics pointed out in comments to our earlier story as well as elsewhere, that this partnership news — telegraphed by Ellison on Oracle’s earnings call two weeks ago — appears to have been motivated by bad third quarter and fourth quarter earnings reports more than anything else. While Oracle touts huge growth in sales of its engineered systems, overall hardware revenue has been falling for more than a year. Sales of higher margin Exa machines has not offset decline in sales of commodity boxes, a trend that Ellison and co-president Safra Catz said should resolve itself next year. Any Exa- sales Oracle makes into or NetSuite could help that picture. But is either company drop-kicking its entire server fleet for Exadata? Highly unlikely.

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