Oracle SaaS vs. Microsoft Windows Azure: Any Similarities?
Microsoft is pushing forward with Windows Azure — the company’s cloud-based Windows Server system. And Oracle continues to accelerate its SaaS (software as a service) strategy for ISVs (independent software vendors). Are Oracle and Microsoft on a collision course in the cloud? Yes and no. Here’s why. And here’s what ultimately matters to VARs.
No doubt, Microsoft and Oracle both want to provide the foundation for cloud platforms. But they’re addressing emerging cloud opportunities in different ways.
At Microsoft, the strategy involves launching the Windows Azure cloud, and then convincing ISVs (independent software vendors) to port their applications into Azure. Heck, Microsoft is even recruiting open source application partners to embrace Azure.
Microsoft’s SaaS effort also involves recruiting channel partners to embrace Azure. True believers include West Monroe Partners, a Chicago solutions provider that has already launched applications on Windows Azure.
Meanwhile, Oracle isn’t necessarily looking to build its own massive clouds. Instead, Oracle wants to be the software foundation for third-party SaaS providers like Cisco WebEx, BlackBoard and RightNow. Those SaaS applications run on Oracle’s software — but the SaaS providers (Cisco, BlackBoard, RightNow) maintain their own systems.
Back at the Oracle OpenWorld conference (October 11, 2009, San Francisco), Oracle described a three-part SaaS strategy:
- Commercial agreements that empower ISVs with SaaS (known as SaaS for ISVs): Any ISV can build an application with no up-front Oracle costs, then you pay as you grow. Oracle descibed the ISV strategy in a June 2009 podcacast with The VAR Guy.
- Enabling partners with SaaS through the SaaS KnowledgeZone.
- Building a partner ecosystem that includes managing hosting providers and systems integrators. Oracle pointed to partners like Computer Sciences Corp. and RackSpace Hosting, among others. Oracle also mentioned Oracle Validated Integrations — which ensure SaaS applications can integrate with Oracle on-premise applications and Oracle CRM on Demand. Roughly 500 integrations have been validated so far.
The Bottom Line
For now, Microsoft and Oracle are taking different SaaS and cloud routes:
- Microsoft wants ISVs and partners to jump into the Windows Azure cloud.
- Oracle isn’t necessarily building its own big cloud — and is instead evangelizing Oracle databases and middleware to third-party SaaS and cloud companies.
Conspiracy theorists wonder if Oracle will start building its own massive clouds if the Oracle-Sun Microsystems deal gets approved.The VAR Guy loves a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. But our resident blogger will wait for the Oracle-Sun deal to move forward before making any wild predictions.