Rivals Microsoft And Oracle Partner To Connect Clouds

‘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,’ says Don Johnson, executive vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Rivals Microsoft and Oracle Wednesday announced they’re linking their clouds to allow joint customers to migrate and run their enterprise application workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

The direct network interconnection, which allows Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud customers to extend their on-premises data centers to both clouds, is available starting Wednesday in Oracle’s Ashburn, Va., data center region and Azure’s East U.S. region. Plans are under way to expand to other regions, but the companies offered no time frame.

The move was seen as a bid by Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft —the No. 2 cloud provider—and Redwood City, Calif., cloud underdog Oracle to better compete against No. 1 Amazon Web Services.

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“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,” Don Johnson, executive vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said in a statement.

While many companies have invested in Oracle solutions for various parts of their business, few customers are hosting their entire workloads on Oracle Cloud, noted Sean Roberts, general manager of the public cloud center of excellence at Ensono, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based managed service provider.

“This has become problematic for customers looking to move to a public cloud because they are confined to Oracle’s cloud by technical and licensing restrictions,” Roberts said. “Realistically, Oracle knows it cannot compete head-on with the leading public cloud providers, so to prevent customers from removing its solutions altogether, the company opened the door for customers to migrate to Azure. This also benefits Microsoft, as it gives Azure a leg up on its competitors in the public cloud space by having access to Oracle customers."

Microsoft and Oracle’s interoperability alliance means enterprises can connect Microsoft Azure services such as analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to Oracle Cloud services such as its Autonomous Database, and deploy cloud solutions that marry Oracle applications such as JD Edwards Enterprise One, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail and Hyperion with Oracle, and Microsoft databases running on Azure and/or Oracle Cloud Infrastucture. It also paves the way for new matchups, 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, the companies said.

The companies will offer joint support of the connected cloud alliance.

“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,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI division, said in a statement.

The agreement makes it easier for enterprises to have a backup cloud if they are starting with Azure or Oracle or split up workloads to give developer teams their cloud of choice, as data architects, application developers and enterprise architects may have specific preferences, according to Hyoun Park, CEO and principal analyst at Amalgam Insights in Arlington, Mass.

“By having a joint offering, Oracle and Microsoft have the opportunity to remove a lot of the nitty-gritty work of service orders, service mapping, networking, data transfer, governance and business continuity work that would otherwise be necessary to manage application stacks across workloads,” Park said. “This should be an interesting opportunity for cloud channel partners to take full advantage of the compensation models for both clouds, while giving customers flexibility based on their own IT vendor interaction preferences. And the joint support team allows enterprises to get help with a group experienced in the nuances of both clouds and the technical challenges of supporting interconnected cloud services and workloads.”

The Albertsons grocery company, clothing retailer Gap and oilfield services company Halliburton have been piloting the joint offering.

“At Halliburton, we have a long history of running both Oracle and Microsoft technologies for our most critical applications,” Ken Braud, Halliburton’s senior vice president and CIO, said in a statement. “Our deep experience with these two strategic vendors has yielded consistently stable and performant application deployments. This alliance gives us the flexibility and ongoing support to continue leveraging our standard architectures, while allowing us to focus on generating business outcomes that maximize returns for our shareholders.”

Multi-cloud environments are here to stay, according to Chris Presley, director of consulting and big data at Pythian, an IT consultant, managed service provider and Microsoft Gold Partner based in Ottawa.

“Google started this with Anthos, and competitors are responding in kind,” Presley said. “Better inter-connectivity between clouds will continue. Oracle is a massive part of enterprise, and two behemoth corporations who serve enterprise working better together is better for us all.”

The cloud partnership is a great step forward for customers with complicated Oracle workloads that want to leverage the cloud, said Simon Pane, Pythian’s principal consultant.

“Through a tightly coupled multi-cloud solution, their cloud journey is now significantly easier,” Pane said.

As it stands, Azure is a valid destination for customers with simple Oracle environments, meaning single-instance databases on non-engineered systems, according to Pane.

“For those customers, Oracle databases and associated applications can use Azure IaaS,” he said. “But Azure IaaS is not a practical solution for customers with complex Oracle usages such as complicated database configurations using Oracle’s RAC or high-performance Engineered Systems, or with similarly complicated Oracle application stacks—i.e., Oracle e-Business Suite, etc. Technologies such as RAC simply aren’t possible in non-Oracle clouds.”