This is a joint post with my colleague Holger Mueller who looks at IaaS/PaaS and Future of Work technologies for Constellation Research.
At a press conference on June 24th, 2013 with Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer ,and Oracle’s President Mark Hurd announced a cloud partnership where Azure customers will be able to run Oracle Database (no version mentioned, but Constellation expects this to be 12c), Oracle Weblogic, and Java.
Oracle also announced availability of Oracle Linux for Azure customers. Constellation believes that the deployments of the Oracle 12c, Weblogic and Java stack pieces will be deployed on Oracle’s Linux. Should this be true, the approach makes sense, as this is a tested and proven hardware and software combination. Further, Microsoft has already begun to run parts of Azure on Linux.
The partnership alliance poses significant implications for both vendors and more importantly customers moving to the cloud for three reasons:
- Java comes to Azure, a sign of pax in the .NET vs Java wars. For Applications to run on Azure, they needed to be built in C# or compatible languages. Now, with the licensing of Java by Microsoft as part of this partnership, Java applications will run on Azure. This opens doors for Java applications on the Azure cloud, as well as general more portability for Java applications. And Azure becomes a friendly cloud for the 9 million+ Java developers out there. .
Point Of View: Microsoft and Oracle strike a win-win here. Microsoft gains more language derived potential for expanding Azure and Oracle adds a marquee cloud stack to support Java. Given the substantial overlap of enterprise customers on both Microsoft and Oracle, customers will benefit from more cross cloud compatibility for Java while supporting Azure for IaaS.
- Azure will run Oracle Weblogic and the Oracle Database. Microsoft will support Oracle Linux in Azure as the foundation to run the middleware and the database stack. Though the press release and the press conference did not specify which Oracle database, Constellation speculates this is for Oracle Database 12c. In addition, Oracle announced license mobility for customers who want to run software on Azure and bring Oracle Linux to Azure..
(POV): Interesting enough when Larry Ellison spilled the news for this announcement during the Q4 Oracle earnings call, this was not about the Oracle Database, but very specifically about Oracle 12c. It’s not clear why 12c is not specifically referenced in the press release – but with the ORacle 12c general availability slotted for June 25h, 2013, this moment may not have been the time to steal the thunder. Of note, it is not only the database, but also the Weblogic application server which will be deployed on Azure. This comes as a surprise at first, but given the work Oracle has done to integrate the former BEA flagship product with 12c and Java – it was a question of taking whole technology building and avoiding too many interfaces. Why run Java apps through Biztalk to an Oracle database? Constellation views this as a smart move by both companies, as it allows Azure customers to utilize more of the Oracle products, that are more and more entwined due to the Fusion and Exaxxx products.
- The hypervisor is where Microsoft and Oracle draw a line in the sand. Oracle will support Microsoft’s hypervisor Hyper-V to be the demarcation line between higher level application code and the Oracle products that now run in Azure. The combined offering will be running on Hyper-V, which creates some headaches for Oracle on the hypervisor level as Constellation predicted, and will be supported by Oracle support as running on Windows Azure. .
(POV): This poses some engineering work for the Oracle hypervisor teams, but nothing impossible to achieve. And the benefits are tangible, Hyper-V built applications will now be able to run on the Oracle Database (12c, and on Oracle Linux). This will give a lot of performance critical (think Dynamics) applications that were limited by SQL Server scalability before, new breathing room. Microsoft was able to protect higher level applications of its technology stack with this agreement and at the same time Oracle benefits from a whole ecosystem of Hyper-V compatible applications. The cost of supporting Hyper-V for Oracle, which is tangible, is however dwarfed by this additional market potential. And it gives Mircosoft an important leg up against VMware’s vSphere. Constellation believes this has significant implications in the cloud stack wars among Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, and VMware. In unusual candidness for these Oracle listed the current and future deliverables for the alliance in an blog post here.
Why did this happen?
As previously mentioned, this would have been a very good April Fool’s headline – even back on April 1st 2013. So this alliance comes as a surprise pretty much to all industry observers, at least we have not seen anyone claiming to see this one coming.