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Oracle databases in OCI now run on Microsoft Azure

A new partnership between two enterprise technology giants adds Oracle's hardware and software for Microsoft Azure customers, as former rivals unite to compete against AWS.

Technology vendor rivals Oracle and Microsoft are uniting against cloud computing challengers that are making enterprise inroads.

Ahead of Oracle CloudWorld this week, the two companies unveiled a joint service that makes Oracle's hardware and software available through Microsoft's Azure cloud.

Database services previously exclusive to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure are available for consumption through Azure instances with Oracle Exadata server hardware now co-located within Microsoft-owned data centers in the new Oracle Database@Azure offering.

The two companies have partnered in recent years. This latest offering further entwines their partnership and their customers, said Dave Raffo, a senior analyst at Futurum Group. Enterprise vendors need to have their technology and services available wherever a customer might want to buy as multi-cloud adoption increases, he said.

"You can definitely say people didn't see it coming," Raffo said. "Is it ever really a shock when someone is making their enterprise product available in a public cloud? Oracle has its own cloud, but there's a lot of co-opetition. It's a sign of the times."

Oracle mixed with Azure

Many enterprise customers using Oracle and Microsoft tools still look for on-premises purchases for their workloads, said Larry Ellison, founder and CTO of Oracle, during a press briefing for the new partnership.

Having Oracle available within Azure supports the multi-cloud buying habits of customers, he said, as such buyers hold back from compete cloud adoption due to performance limitations, pricy vendor lock-in and the challenge of re-creating existing workflows on cloud tools.

A lot of customers have moved partially to the cloud. We're trying to hasten that process.
Larry EllisonFounder and CTO, Oracle

"A lot of customers have moved partially to the cloud," Ellison said. "We're trying to hasten that process."

Specific services to be available in Azure include Oracle Exadata Database services, Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Real Application Clusters. The two vendors will also coordinate support services for their respective customers.

Oracle databases form the IT data backbone for many enterprises, making a cloud transition very difficult for customers who are considering a workload shift, said Scott Sinclair, practice director at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget. This shift may be driven by wanting access to services local infrastructure can't provide, such as AI development and training.

"It's so integrated within your company it's very difficult to jettison," Sinclair said. "[This challenge] is not unique to Oracle."

Oracle's database business, including Amazon Relational Database Service and Amazon Redshift, a database and data lake service respectively, McDowell said.

This latest partnership Enterprise IT buyers today are primarily multi-cloud and want their workloads available when and where they're needed, Sinclair said. Despite the challenges of working around specific vendor platforms and services, cloud offerings enable a flexibly impossible with customer owned data centers – a boon for massive and mission-critical databases like Oracle.

"We're going to be getting out of a world with specific software functionality being tied to a specific location," Sinclair said.

Future unseen by the Oracle

Oracle isn't blind to its own competitive trail compared with major public clouds such as Azure, Google Cloud and AWS, said Steve McDowell, a principal analyst and founding partner at NAND Research.

AWS, the lead public cloud by a significant percentage, offers a variety of services that directly challenge deal between Oracle and Microsoft marks an inflection point for enterprise technology vendors, McDowell added, as the pool of vendors that can complement one another's technology without directly competing is slim. IBM Cloud remains focused more on hybrid offerings through Red Hat and its Watson AI offerings. The only other technology vendor equal in size and capability to the three major public cloud in the modern enterprise is Nvidia, with its AI and chips offerings.

"Oracle and Microsoft have been longtime competitors and bitter rivals," McDowell said. "What I think they've recognized is [they're both] losing customers to Amazon Redshift."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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