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Microsoft and salesforce.com Partner, Is World Peace Next?

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: May 30 2014

Two long-standing foes, Microsoft Corp. and salesforce.com, recently announced a strategic partnership to create new solutions that connect salesforce.com’s customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and Salesforce1 Platform to Microsoft Office and Windows. Salesforce.com now plans to make its own apps and platform interoperable with Office 365 apps, such as Office Mobile, Office for iPad, Office 365, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint Online. Among other things, users will be able to access, edit, and share Office 365 content from salesforce.com, and connect its data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information.
In addition to developing a new Salesforce Outook app, salesforce.com also plans to extend the Salesforce1 Platform, which has a strong “mobile first” focus and support for Android and iOS, to Windows and Windows Phone 8.1. A preview is planned to be available in fall 2014, with general availability in 2015.
Prior to the above official press release, Bloomberg reported that salesforce.com's apps were set to run on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud infrastructure/platform as a service (IaaS/PaaS) offering. Should the report turn out to be true, the development will be particularly notable in light of the rivalry between the two companies. Not only does Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite (offered both on premise and in the cloud) compete fiercely with salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud (at least in terms of price pressure), but Azure also competes with salesforce.com's Heroku and Salesforce1 (formerly Force.com) PaaS offerings.
But Microsoft’s new chief executive officer (CEO) Satya Nadella has made it clear from the start that he is willing to support rival products and platforms when customers demand it, starting with offering Office for iPads. This is more about Microsoft’s industry partnerships approach, similar to the ones it has with Oracle (read TEC article) and SAP (watch video), with which it also competes with other products. Microsoft Dynamics will continue to compete in the CRM space, and actually offers the deep integration with Office and Windows Mobile today. Still, it is apparent that Microsoft considers Amazon, Google, and Apple as much stronger threats, and that the success of Azure, Office, and Windows Mobile is more important, even if at the price of undermining Dynamics CRM.
Salesforce.com struck a blockbuster data integration deal with another major rival, Oracle, in 2013. That deal called for salesforce.com to buy Oracle's Exadata systems and standardize on its databases and middleware. More recently, salesforce.com launched a service that lets Heroku apps built by third parties integrate with their sibling Salesforce1 apps.
It might be interesting to analyze why salesforce.com might embrace Azure Cloud now after years of publicly belittling it. Perhaps the vendor realized that it is not easy to be both the cloud infrastructure (i.e., owning physical data centers in several regions, especially after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency [NSA] of late) and applications provider on a global basis, expect for a few of the largest companies? There are indications of some issues for salesforce.com creating a European hosting infrastructure and maybe Azure could help alleviate some of that process.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this all develops. Microsoft believes that it does show off the power of Office and Azure and the growing momentum of Windows Mobile. For more, read Microsoft Dynamics leader Kirill Tatarinov’s related blog post.
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