When cloud companies team up, good things tend to happen for customers. It provides a way to combine different kinds of enterprise information in a seamless way. Cloud partnerships happen so often and so easily, it’s easy to take them for granted.

Just this week, for instance, we saw Google and Salesforce reveal the first fruits of their partnership announced at Dreamforce last fall. Users can now import Salesforce CRM data into Google 360 analytics, giving them a much more complete picture of their customers.

They are also integrating Salesforce data with Google BigQuery (its cloud data warehouse product) and linking Salesforce info such as top prospects to the Google ad pipeline so users can serve ads to the people most likely to buy.

We also saw Okta teaming up with ServiceNow, two well known cloud brands. In this case, the companies incorporated Okta identity information into ServiceNow’s security operations product. This lets security operations personnel see which employee is the source of a given breach. By placing identity at the center of security, they can then simply shut down access and force the user to change credentials. 

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These are just two of countless examples of cloud companies forming alliances. This is in stark contrast to the days before cloud computing when the goal was to lock you into a proprietary stack and keep you there. Companies like IBM, HP, EMC, Microsoft, and Oracle had little motivation to make it easier for you to use competitor products — although even these companies see that the world has changed as they have all mostly shifted to a cloud-centric model.

APIs for the win

What allows these integrations is strong APIs. Companies like Okta, ServiceNow, Google, Microsoft, Box, Salesforce and so many others have created hooks that make it easier for developers to integrate functionality and data between programs.

Having this ability also allows cloud companies to take that a step further and actually build in functionality from one program inside another. In Okta’s partnership with ServiceNow, they are actually building in data and functionality from Okta inside the ServiceNow interface, making it possible to see all of the relevant information in one place without switching between programs.

We’ve seen Slack as perhaps the ultimate manifestation of this, allowing just about any enterprise program to plug into the cloud communications platform and enable employees to access data and functionality all from one central place, a goal that has long been the holy grail of enterprise computing.

That ability to push data and functionality into different programs to build more powerful applications is a huge advantage of software in the cloud and it’s one of the major differences from the previous generation of products and services. Today, it’s about working together, not locking you down and that’s a huge win from the customer perspective.

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Photo: Chris Potter on Flickr. Used under CC by 2.0 license.

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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