Microsoft Makes Keynote Debut at Oracle OpenWorld

A Microsoft executive delivered a keynote presentation for the first time to an Oracle OpenWorld audience Tuesday, unveiling the fruits of a partnership between the two software giants announced last summer: a preview of license-included Windows Server virtual machine images running Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Server and the Java Development Kit.

Brad Anderson, Microsoft's corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise, made the announcements to a packed auditorium at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

"This is the only public cloud in the industry where you can come and provision those Oracle workloads on Windows or Linux with full support from Microsoft and Oracle," he said.

In June the two companies announced a partnership that promised to make it possible to run Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. Oracle software has been running on Window Server for years, Anderson pointed out. He suggested that Oracle workloads running Windows Server is "one of the most common configurations in existence in today's datacenters."

Three out of every four x86 servers run Windows, Anderson said, and Web and database are the most common workloads that run on those tens of millions of instances of Windows Server.

"Our vision for the cloud is called Cloud OS," Anderson said, "and we believe that organizations want and need a single and consistent cloud environment that spans private, hosted and public cloud."

Anderson characterized Microsoft's Azure public cloud as "battle-hardened" from years in production, and he supported that characterization with a barrage of stats:

  • Every day there are 50 billion minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls run on the Azure cloud.
  • There are 250 million unique users storing data in SkyDrive.
  • There are 48 million active users of Xbox Live, who have initiated 1.5 billion unique games of "Halo."
  • One in four enterprises uses Office 365, which is delivered as a service.
  • Roughly 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using Azure.
  • There are 8.5 trillion objects stored in the Windows Azure BLOB store. 

"Everything about this partnership that you see coming from Oracle and Microsoft revolves around offering flexibility and choice," Anderson said.

But it also revolves around a great deal of self-interest. "It is in Oracle's interest to be in as many clouds as possible, and Microsoft's interest to show that its Azure cloud can support as many targets as possible," said Ovum principal analyst Tony Baer in an e-mail.

"Microsoft and Oracle strike a win-win here," said R. "Ray" Wang, principal analyst and CEO at Constellation Research Group, in an e-mail. "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."

Wang also sees the Microsoft-Oracle partnership as a "sign of a pax in the .NET vs. Java wars."

"For applications to run on Azure, they needed to be built in C# or compatible languages," he said. "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 [in] general more portability for Java applications. And Azure becomes a friendly cloud for the 9 million+ Java developers out there."

IDC analyst Al Hilwa was struck by the disruption generated by the shift to cloud technologies that the Microsoft-Oracle partnership underscores.

"Of course, that there is an exclusive partnership between these two is a big deal," he said. "Cloud services require a deeper type of integration to deliver enterprise service levels, so to see that the two are working on this is the right answer to stimulate adoption for both technologies. This is a win-win, because it means Oracle's customers who want see top-tier middleware and database in a top-tier infrastructure cloud will be able to get what they want."

Wang suggested that the hypervisor is where the two companies seem to be drawing a kind of 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," he said. "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."

"Microsoft is clearly not the feared rival that it used to be," Baer added. "For the part of Microsoft that is focused on enterprise computing, it is in their interest to play nice. And so you've seen the interoperability with Java, support of Hadoop (even at the cost of canceling a homegrown initiative). Oracle and Microsoft have bigger things to worry about than each other."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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