Internet of things makes strange bedfellows of Oracle and Salesforce

The next big wave of computing is uniting old rivals and even shifting Oracle away from its old cloud strategy

The Internet of things represents that next major wave for computing, replacing the server-client model with a cloud-based infrastructure that pulls data from far-flung sources -- from RFID sensors and wearables to social networking feeds to back-end ERP and CRM data troves -- and seamlessly transforms and delivers that data to any and all computing devices as useful information. Companies that aren't poised to ride this wave will find themselves left adrift.

In fact, the desire to be Internet of things-ready is so strong, it can lead companies with a traditionally frosty relationship to warm to each other. Just take a look at Oracle and Salesforce.com, which just inked a nine-year partnership after several years of passive-aggressive sniping.

Because the Internet of things is so cloud-dependent, Oracle even is trashing its old cloud strategy. One of the key components of its deals with Salesforce, Microsoft, and Netsuite is the tight, fully supported integration between Oracle technologies, including Oracle's Linux OS distribution, Java, Exadata, WebLogic Server, and Oracle Database, and its rival-turned-partners' cloud platforms. This represents a shift from Oracle's previous patchwork approach to the cloud, which has been about buying up and assimilating companies in its infamous Borg-like fashion. That's an expensive and time-consuming approach, and it doesn't lend itself well to the age of cloud computing. Partnering with formidable companies like Microsoft and Salesforce means enterprise customers can more quickly and confidently move into the cloud, bringing their existing Oracle apps with them -- so long as all the players can deliver on their promises of integration.

As Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tell it, Salesforce's and Oracle's cloud apps will come integrated out of the box (or the ether), capable of sharing data and working together from day one. This means that enterprise customers -- especially IT departments -- can focus on running and building out their cloud infrastructures rather than recruiting developers to continually stitch and maintain those connections among disparate systems.

The fact that Oracle now has a well-respected cloud company in Salesforce.com committed to its database (and its Exadata server platform) doesn't hurt either. During the call, Benioff repeatedly gushed over the new cloud-friendly Oracle Database 12c, but Salesforce, too, stands to benefit from the partnership with Oracle. It can tell its enterprise customers, "Hey, look: Our enterprise apps seamlessly integrate with Oracle's enterprise apps with the flip of a switch, and we're going to maintain that level of integration for at least the next nine years." Just as Salesforce has pledged to use Oracle technology, Oracle will start using Salesforce.com.

Whether or not Oracle's partnership gambits will pay off remains to be seen. The company has some catching up to do in the cloud space, though -- its new partnerships smack a bit of desperation in light of the investor backlash the company has received following disappointing software- and cloud-related sales -- and its once tried-and-true, go-it-alone approach hasn't helped the company muscle its way onto the market. But if it can position itself to catch the Internet-of-things wave, it will be in for a sweet ride.

This story, "Internet of things makes strange bedfellows of Oracle and Salesforce," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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