Oracle partners with Microsoft to launch database service for Azure

Oracle Database Service for Azure gives Microsoft Azure customers direct access to Oracle databases residing in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

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Oracle and Microsoft on Wednesday said that they were jointly launching a new service, dubbed Oracle Database Service for Azure, that will allow Azure customers direct access to Oracle databases running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

The new offering, which is based on a three-year-old relationship between the two companies that allowed their common customer enterprises to run workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud to reduce latency, is a managed service that enables enterprises to provision and manage Oracle databases running on OCI using an Azure-native API and console, said Kris Rice, vice president of software development for Oracle Database.

This means that enterprises can monitor Oracle databases right from within the Azure environment.

"What we did was we took all the metrics and logs that are naturally produced by the servers on the Oracle OCI cloud, and we're cloning them automatically over to the user side to try and give customers that single pane view over their entire stack," Rice said.

There is no charge for the Oracle Database Service for Microsoft Azure, the Oracle Interconnect for Microsoft Azure, or data transfer when moving data between OCI and Azure, the companies said, adding that enterprises will need to pay for the other Azure or Oracle services they consume, such as Azure Synapse or Oracle Autonomous Database.  

Reducing complexity for CIOs, developers

The jointly developed service, which is generally available now, will reduce complexity for developers, CIOs, data scientists and engineers, according to analysts.

"The new service allows enterprises to move applications that are built on Microsoft and Oracle technologies to the cloud with little to no changes by replicating the same technologies they are using on-premises," said Dave McCarthy, research vice president at IDC.

Further, the service helps in reducing the complexity of managing different products from different vendors and aids developers in accelerating app development, said Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

The age of hyperscaler coopetition

Microsoft and Oracle are typically rivals, but the growing relationship between the two software giants is reflective of where cloud customers are headed, analysts said.

According to IDC's 2021 IaaS View survey of 1,500 cloud customers, 64% of respondents currently have a multicloud environment. Of those, 75% have an application in one cloud that regularly interacts with databases located elsewhere (either another cloud or on-premises).

The rise of this trend is due to enterprises adopting a best-of-breed approach to computing architecture, said Dave McCarthy, research vice president at IDC.           

"Simply put, each cloud provider has its unique strengths and customers want to mix and match services to get the best outcome. Unfortunately, setting up and managing a multicloud environment can be difficult and costly," McCarthy said, adding that these challenges are forcing hyperscalers to cooperate with each other.

Similar relationships among other cloud providers such as Google Cloud and AWS can be expected in the future if the best-of-breed approach continues, said Muller.

Another reason behind the Microsoft-Oracle partnership is that there is relatively little direct competition between OCI and Azure, though the cloud providers generally compete with one another, said Tony Baer, principal analyst at dbInsight.

"While both offer DBaaS [database as a service] and enterprise SaaS service, the relationship seems like a natural fit as the majority of Oracle's customer base with back-office Oracle databases and applications use Microsoft Office for the front office," Baer added.

However, according to Baer, Microsoft and Oracle are not the only ones collaborating while competing.

 While hyperscalers compete, there are targeted relationships emerging among the top public cloud providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform) and those with a smaller user base ( OCI, IBM Cloud), Baer said.

"Already there is coopetition, such as with AWS and MongoDB, Azure and Redis, and GCP with a slew of open-source databases, where the hyperscalers will jointly sell and support third party offerings that compete with some of their own in-house DBaaS or SaaS services," Baer said.

Another example of coopetition is IBM's partnership with AWS, under which Amazon  offers a host of IBM SaaS services that span automation, data and AI, security and sustainability capabilities.

Oracle's cloud push with OCI

Oracle has been continuously investing in expanding its cloud services, especially OCI, recently slashing prices for its dedicated region product to grow its customer base. OCI  contributed heavily to growth of the company's fourth quarter revenue for fiscal year 2022.

The new Oracle Database Service for Azure service, according to analysts, will boost OCI's customer base further.

"The intent of the new service is to facilitate the migration of workloads that remain on-premises. Oracle environments that may not have been easily moved into Azure can be accommodated by this joint service," McCarthy said.

The service, according to dbInsights' Baer, also provides a leg-up to Oracle in terms of competition with AWS.

"OCI competes most heavily with AWS in DBaaS to the point where Oracle makes price guarantees that its Autonomous Data Warehouse will be roughly half the cost of Amazon Redshift," Baer added.

Oracle Database Service for Azure also aids Microsoft as it is specifically targeted at organizations that prefer Microsoft Azure as their cloud provider but want to continue to use Oracle's differentiated database offerings, such as Oracle Autonomous Database and Exadata Database Service, said Matt Aslett, research director at Ventana Research.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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