Microsoft Is a Launch Partner for Salesforce's New IoT Cloud Service
Satya Nadella may have fallen short of convincing Marc Benioff
to sell Salesforce.com to Microsoft earlier this year but
the two rivals are extending their year-and-a-half-old strategic partnership.
Nadella also found his way onto the podium last night at Dreamforce 2015 in San
Francisco, where the Microsoft CEO participated in the keynote session at
Salesforce.com's annual customer and partner event.
The extended pact, announced yesterday, aims to
provide further connectivity between Salesforce.com's platform with several
additional Microsoft productivity applications, including Skype for Business,
OneNote, Delve, and Windows 10. Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, initially made
the announcement onstage with Microsoft Chairman John Thompson.
"The Salesforce and Microsoft partnership has been
beyond our expectations," Benioff said during his keynote. "We're unified in
ways we've never experienced before." During a post-keynote press conference,
Benioff described the partnership as "an aggressive move," adding, "We're not
afraid of Microsoft. We want to embrace it."
The two companies
plans to work together last year. Earlier this year, they
the public beta of the Salesforce App for Outlook.
Salesforce has overhauled its
to produce two versions: "Lightning" and "Thunder." Salesforce unveiled
Lightning in August, which is built on the Salesforce1 platform and has a new
user interface, and combines several tools, including the new Lightning Design
System, Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components. Thunder is the scalable
processing engine behind the company's new Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud
The Skype for Business
integration with the Salesforce Lightning Experience allows Office 365 customers
to use Skype to generate Web meetings, find colleagues online, click to chat and
make voice and video calls from the Salesforce platform. The OneNote integration
will allow users to associate notes with Salesforce records and view and edit notes in
OneNote from the Salesforce platform. The Delve integration makes the open
Office Graph ecosystem viewable and discoverable via Salesforce. And the
Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10 will be an "app to empower sales teams to
move deals forward while on the go, using their favorite Windows device," the
companies said. All four integrations are expected in the second half of 2016.
Salesforce said it will launch its new IoT Cloud
service officially sometime next year. Microsoft is the first Thunder user;
Benioff called the company its "launch partner." Salesforce Cofounder Parker
Harris, who showed up at the keynote dressed as "Lightning Man," said the
Salesforce overhaul was "the biggest thing we've done since we started this
company." He then showed conference attendees how Microsoft is using the IoT
Cloud service in conjunction with Azure Event Hubs to track Office 365 event
data. Azure data is automatically sent to Salesforce to trigger events.
Harris demonstrated how the Salesforce service determines how Office 365 data
should be used, and then connects it to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The IoT
Cloud can capture data from billions of daily Office 365 usage events, he said.
Industry analyst and author Jason Bloomberg, president of
Intellyx, who attended the conference, sees the IoT Cloud as more of an
integration cloud. "What's interesting is the sheer scale of it," he said. "How
many Office 365 customers are there? How many events per customer per day? That
is a massive cloud scalability challenge."
Cisco Systems, which is also an early IoT Cloud customer, is using the
service to monitor event data generated by its networking hardware, Benioff
said. He was joined onstage by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, who talked about his
company's investment in IoT and the Salesforce integration. "We can feed
analytics in, and correlate it, and dynamically change the infrastructure based
on what our customers are doing," he said to Wired reporter Jessi Hempel.
Nadella spoke in general terms about "partnering broadly" and "harmonizing the
multiplicity of interests." But he added that "Diversity is an existential need
for us at Microsoft" and that his company's partnerships with Salesforce, Apple,
and others are about providing for customer needs. Forrester Analyst John Rymer, who also attended the Dreamforce
event, said the Salesforce partnership is another example of new thinking at
Microsoft and its ongoing effort to capture demand wherever they find.
Rymer credits Microsoft's Azure group, among others, for
recognizing early the folly of maintaining a closed ecosystem. "Microsoft has
been investing in further enhancements of .NET and Windows, of course, but the
Azure guys realize that they can't live on the demand that comes from those
sources alone," Rymer said. "That's why [Microsoft] is
reaching out to the Linux community, to the various language communities, and to Docker. The
logic behind the Salesforce partnership is simple: the company has a big
community behind it and partnering positions Microsoft to capture more demand."
Microsoft's decision to partner with Salesforce is also an
important endorsement of the latter company's technology, said IDC analyst Al
Hilwa. "Everyone knows that Microsoft has the horsepower to build something that
can analyze this data in time," he said, "but the Salesforce team has put this
product together with just the right functionality at the right time. The IoT
Cloud puts Salesforce on the map as an IoT analytics player. With IoT Cloud, you
have to give it to Salesforce for taking the rocket science out of data science
and bringing IoT analytics to the masses. That top technology companies like
Microsoft and Cisco are using it is a strong endorsement of the power under the
John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com 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].