2013 - The Summer of (Strange) Love, Courtesy of the Cloud

5 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

Summer of Cloud Computing Love
June 2013 will go down as a pivotal moment in computing history. Not because any paradigm-shifting technology was introduced (though Hadoop’s new operating system is pretty impressive) but because the way vendors now play the game has fundamentally shifted.

Not in theory, mind you, it has actually happened.

Consider that Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who only twenty months ago, mocked Salesforce, calling it the “roach motel” of the Cloud (where “you can check in but you can’t check out”), is now singing its praises, referring to it as “the market leader for CRM.”

Not only that, but at a recent press conference, he and Salesforce boss MarcBenioff sounded like old chums as they announced the beginning of a nine year business “partnership” between their companies.
One of the many things they said they’d be doing is building and selling a common product.“Oracle will continue to sell Oracle apps,” Ellison explained, "Salesforce will continue to sell Salesforce apps, but we will both sell the productized integration.”

And, if the integration looks like Ellison says it will, users will be able to download it from either vendor’s site and start using it right away.

Can you say frictionless?

Ellison & Benioff In Love

But, during the press call, what seemed even more frictionless than the business arrangement between their two companies was the way their founders got along; they actually presented themselves on equal-footing.

Benioff didn't portray Ellison as an old man who “just doesn’t get it” (“it” being theCloud, SaaS, the Internet of Things); and, perhaps for the first time, Ellison didn’t treat Benioff like an arrogant kid with ridiculous ideas.

The two had turned a new leaf over. Benioff made that clear.

"By Larry and I coming together, a door has opened that lets us go through into the future, and we're not going to be held back by how the industry was," he said.

Levie’s Public Display of Affection at Microsoft Build

As if that’s not reason enough to drop your jaw, how about Box co-founder Aaron Levie showing up on stage at Microsoft Build wearing an “I’m a PC” t-shirt and singing praises for Mr. Softie. That, too, happened late last month.

Remember, Levie is the guy who practically built a company and a career out of his disdain for Microsoft SharePoint.

Less than two years ago, before a sizeable audience, Levie flashed a mocked-up screen shot of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dressedlike a pirate (parrot, eye patch and all) pointed to it and snidely remarked, “Enterprise software isn’t sexy, and that’s because it makes you think of this guy.”

Learning Opportunities

Levie said something quite different at Build. Standing before thousands of Microsoft developers he remarked:

We're (Box) big supporters of Microsoft. We build for the Windows desktop, we build on Windows 8, (we) build on Windows 8 Phone.”

Now granted, Levie was cheering-on Microsoft’s more open approach toward the market, particularly as it relates toMicrosoft Azure’s Active Directory. But even so …

It’s not only Levie’s attitude toward Microsoft that has changed, Microsoft is changing its attitude too. Satya Nadella, president, Server and Tools Business at Microsoft made it clear that he realizes that Friction on the Cloud is not part of his company’s future. He offered a sneak preview of application access enhancements for Windows Azure Active Directory, which provides organizations and ISVs with a single sign-on experience to access cloud-based applications.

Can you say smooth?

Teradata Is Sweet On Hortonworks’ Hadoop

Analytics giant Teradata gets the frictionless thing too; they have embraced Hortonworks’ version of Hadoop in such a big way that, last month, they unveiled a portfolio of services built around it. This “we can do it better together” approach didn’t jar the company’s customers or the world of Big Data at all. Perhaps because Hadoop vendors have it in their DNA to work with everyone and to be open to all, or perhaps because Teradata went straight out and said,”No one technology can be optimized for every type of workload or customer use case,” and when some other solution (like Hadoop)serves you better we can seamlessly provide it to you

What Does Love on the Cloud Look Like?

For vendors this means that they must work with not only their customers’ IT bosses,but also with each other to offer compelling (often multi-vendor) solutions that work well together to get the job done.

The “I’m great, you suck” marketing solutionssuch as the billboard Box put up derailing SharePoint a few years ago, or Ellison’s clever comments intended to defame Benioff’s successes, won’t cut it in the future. Sure, they’ll continue to be entertaining, but they’ll ultimately fail more often than they win.

The rule for winning in the Cloud era is not about being the smartest, most fit or most agile (though all of these matter). Instead it comes from the bottom corner of your grade school report card; the box that says “Plays nicely with others” needs to be checked.

Title image courtesy of blackpixel (Shutterstock)

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