June 24, 2013, 5:31 PM — Oracle and Microsoft have announced a partnership that will see Oracle's database, application server, Java programming language and other products find a home inside Microsoft's Azure cloud service.
The deal, which will also provide Oracle support for Microsoft's Windows Server Hyper-V virtualization platform, is a "great example of partnering to deliver what our enterprise customers need," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during a press conference Monday. "It's about time and we're really glad to work in this much newer and constructive way with Oracle."
"Customers need and want more flexibility to adapt in a rapidly changing business landscape," said Oracle co-President Mark Hurd during the press conference. "This gives customers choice in how they access and deploy our software."
Oracle support for Azure and Hyper-V is effective Monday. Customers with Oracle licenses will be able to use them in Azure deployments, although those who do should be mindful of special rules Oracle has drawn up for "authorized cloud environments," including Azure and Amazon Web Services.
In addition, Microsoft plans to offer Infrastructure Services instances of Oracle products, including its database and WebLogic Server, and Oracle in turn will offer customers the ability to run its Linux distribution on Azure.
The partnership also calls for Microsoft to provide "fully licensed and supported Java" in Azure. While Azure has offered some limited Java capabilities, "we think this makes Java much more first-class with Oracle support," said Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools division.
It wasn't immediately clear when full Java support and the Infrastructure Services instances of Oracle software would be available.
In the meantime, industry watchers will no doubt dissect the announcement for its competitive implications.
While Oracle and Microsoft have worked amicably together on various matters, "in the world of cloud computing that kind of behind-the-scenes collaboration is not enough," Ballmer said. "People wanted more from us. People wanted more from Oracle."
In one sense, Oracle was compelled to make the pact with Microsoft, given the vast installed base of customers running Oracle workloads on top of Windows Server. Those customers, in exchange for the handsome annual maintenance fees they pay Oracle, no doubt expect the vendor to expand options for Windows-based deployments as they become available, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
Hurd alluded to the point during the press conference.