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It's not unprecedented for Oracle rivals to support the company's database, given that it's pretty much an industry standard for enterprise computing. SAP, despite competing fiercely with Oracle on the applications side, develops its SAP Business Suite applications to support the Oracle database.
But even Oracle's relational database is coming under competitive pressure from a new generation of databases, including NoSQL (for "Not Only SQL") databases, that are designed to better handle the big data challenges that businesses find themselves wrestling with, such as the ability to process combinations of structured and unstructured data.
Oracle's goal could be to maintain its market dominance by embedding its database in the cloud infrastructure "stacks" of as many leading software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service vendors as possible.
For Microsoft, the alliance provides a way to address the scalability problems it faces with SQL Server running in the cloud, said a research note from analyst Holger Mueller at Constellation Research. "Ever wondered why the Microsoft enterprise applications only had a SMB focus?" Holger said in the note. "And why Microsoft ran internally on SAP?"
The alliance will have technical hurdles to overcome. Oracle, for example, will have to develop support for Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology, Holger noted. Right now, Oracle offers its own Oracle VM technology with its database software.
The alliance is good news for both Microsoft and Oracle channel partners, Holger said. "For a Microsoft partner, this makes your business more viable in areas where before the sizing teams would have cringed and where the hardware cost could have been prohibitive. For the Oracle database partners this expands the addressable market. And for ISVs in general this is great news -- as you may now have the choice to develop in Java or C# -- with the latter no longer being limited by database capacity."