Cloud computing makes for strange bedfellows, but now that Oracle and Microsoft have agreed to work together to integrate Oracle Cloud services with the Microsoft Azure cloud, almost anything seems possible.
The agreement between the two companies represents something of a strategic retreat for Oracle. For the past several years, Oracle has been making a cloud computing case based on a portfolio that included its own Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, alongside its immense Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application portfolio.
The simple fact is that it will be difficult for anybody else to keep pace with the infrastructure economics that can be generated by web-scale cloud service providers like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Vendors such as SAP and IBM have signaled their intent to make their software available on multiple clouds mainly for this reason.
In Oracle’s case, there is a second motivation to partner with Microsoft. These days, AWS does not miss an opportunity to promote a bevy of open source databases (that it makes available as-a-Service) as an alternative to expensive proprietary Oracle databases. The core of the argument being made by AWS is that even though it has partnerships with multiple providers of proprietary databases, open source databases don’t require additional licenses to enable applications to automatically scale.
How does this benefit MSPs?
Some savvy managed service providers (MSPs), such as RDX, are building a practice around refactoring Oracle applications to run on open source databases. That’s obviously not a strategy that necessarily sits well with either Oracle or Microsoft. Over the years, they have made massive investments in its own proprietary SQL Server database.
Oracle and Microsoft are touting the hybrid cloud computing opportunities potentially afforded by the alliance. From the worldview of Oracle, there should be more instances of its software running on Microsoft Azure that connect back to the Oracle Cloud. For example, there’s an argument to be made for connecting Microsoft PowerBI applications to Oracle databases.
It remains to be seen how much of Oracle’s software winds up running where, but the forces of data gravity are among the most powerful in all of IT. The more applications that wind up being deployed on Microsoft Azure, the more data will be stored on that public cloud.
As that data increases, it starts to draw in other applications that want to access that same data in the most efficient way possible. This inevitably means those applications wind up gravitating to one of the major public clouds.
Oracle is not the only provider of a proprietary database to tacitly make this concession. SAP has made it clear it will be pursuing a public cloud first strategy for it rival proprietary database, while IBM has already committed to leverage containers and Kubernetes clusters to make its entire stack of database and middleware software available on multiple clouds.
In a fiercely contested battle for control over cloud workloads, neither Microsoft nor AWS wants to discriminate when it comes to partnerships. That results in alliances and partnerships ranging from AWS and VMware to Microsoft and SAP. There’s almost no combination of software and infrastructure that cloud service providers are not willing to run, so MSPs should keep their options open.
Naturally, customers will be looking to MSPs to provide the guidance needed to manage what will become a complicated set of cloud computing relationships. Hopefully, beyond providing a little therapy for everyone involved, MSPs will also find themselves becoming the beneficiaries of a new era of computing that most internal IT organizations will find too complicated to manage on their own.
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