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Microsoft Azure Tapped As Public Cloud Provider For Salesforce Marketing Cloud

'By bringing together the power of Azure and Microsoft Teams with Salesforce, our aim is to help businesses harness the power of the Microsoft cloud to better serve customers,' says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Salesforce has chosen Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for its Salesforce Marketing Cloud and announced a new integration to connect the Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds with Microsoft Teams.

Moving its Marketing Cloud to Microsoft Azure will allow Salesforce to optimize its performance as customer demand scales, cutting onboarding times and enabling customers to expand more quickly under Azure's global reach while helping to address local data security, privacy and compliance requirements, the companies said.

To date, Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud has primarily run on the company’s own infrastructure, according to a spokesperson for the San Francisco-based, cloud computing software-as-a-service company, which specializes in customer relationship management (CRM).

The Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds integration with Microsoft Teams -- Microsoft’s communication and collaboration platform combining workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration -- is expected to be active in late 2020. Many customers actively use both Salesforce CRM and Microsoft Teams for their sales and customer service workforces, the companies said, and the integration will allow those teams to search, view and share Salesforce records directly within Teams.

Once bitter rivals, Salesforce and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership in 2014 to connect Salesforce’s CRM apps and platform to Microsoft Office and Windows.

"In a world where every company is becoming a digital company, we want to enable every customer and partner to build experiences on our leading platforms," Satya Nadella, CEO of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, said in a statement today. "By bringing together the power of Azure and Microsoft Teams with Salesforce, our aim is to help businesses harness the power of the Microsoft Cloud to better serve customers."

Salesforce will continue to partner with Microsoft rival Amazon Web Services, where it runs the vast majority of its pubic cloud workloads, according to a Salesforce spokesperson. In 2016, Salesforce chose AWS as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider, expanding its use of AWS to its core services, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, App Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics Cloud. Salesforce and AWS announced an expanded partnership last year designed to simplify how data and events are shared across Salesforce and AWS services, with new integrations connecting the Salesforce Lightning Platform with AWS PrivateLink, which provides private connectivity between virtual private clouds, AWS services and on-premises applications on the Amazon network, and Amazon Connect, AWS’ customer contact center product.

“We'll continue to partner with AWS and run on their public cloud to deliver global customer success,” a Salesforce spokesperson said.

Salesforce also announced a partnership with Google Cloud Platform in 2017 that tied together its CRM platform with G Suite, Google's productivity and team collaboration services.

Under the expanded relationship, Microsoft partners will be able to offer a more integrated ecosystem when Salesforce is involved, according to Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westborough, Mass.-based Microsoft partner.

Cumulus met today with a midsize nonprofit considering a move to Office 365.

“As they are strong Salesforce users, better integration with Teams is essential if they are going to make the move,” Falcon said. “This will benefit customers with more seamless integration. This will benefit partners as we will be able to expand our solutions with more options for integrating the collaboration power of Teams with the preferred sales and marketing tools for many SMB, midmarket and enterprise businesses.”

The expanded Microsoft-Salesforce pact “paves the way for better integration between the two technology stacks, and that can only mean good things for the end user,” said Ryan Duguid, chief of evangelism and advanced technology at Bellevue, Wash.-based Nintex, an independent software vendor and Microsoft partner that focuses on process management and automation.

“While I think the battle between these two tech titans will continue on many fronts in the coming years, it’s great to see them bury the [LinkedIn] hatchet just a little bit with these recent announcements,” said Duguid, whose firm is also a Salesforce partner. “At the end of the day, both players dominate in their respective fields and, as a result, most customers and partners have to live with Salesforce for CRM and Microsoft for productivity.”

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