REDWOOD CITY -- Oracle (ORCL) continued to find friends in unlikely places Tuesday when it announced a nine-year partnership with Salesforce.com as part of Oracle's overdue march into cloud computing.
The deal partners Oracle's billionaire CEO, Larry Ellison, with his long-time rival, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive who has long taunted Ellison for being slow to embrace the cloud.
Their joint announcement came just a day after Oracle announced a cloud-based agreement with another rival, Microsoft, which Ellison has sharply criticized in the past.
"I don't think it's the last time we'll hear Oracle say something bad about its competitors, but it's very good news for its customers," said Jean Bozman, research vice president in the enterprise server group with IDC.
"People criticized Oracle for being late to the cloud, and they're more than making up for lost time,'' Bozman added. "In this world of the cloud, everybody's in there, and customers generally have a lot of everything. So if you're taking on the role of hosting, Oracle is going to want to support multiple operating systems and multiple types of work loads."
Cloud computing refers to the increasingly popular practice of delivering software or services over the Internet, instead of installing them on the customer's computer.
After Oracle's Microsoft announcement Monday, Wells Fargo Securities said it expected Oracle to announce an agreement with Salesforce -- in addition to another announcement this week regarding a partnership with NetSuite, which offers cloud software for running businesses.
"We think the move to more open cloud-based solutions may help overcome market concerns about vendor and platform and high price points," Jason Maynard, Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst, wrote in an email to this newspaper.
Customers, Ellison said, " expect application integrations to work right out of the box -- even when the applications are from different vendors. That's why Marc and I believe it's important that our two companies work together to make it happen, and integrate the salesforce.com and Oracle Clouds."
But Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research for Global Equities Research, was reluctant to read too much into Oracle's sudden embrace of its one-time rivals.
Despite personal rivalries, Chowdhry told this newspaper, "business interests take precedence."
"It's nothing to get excited about," Chowdhry said. "Oracle has been living in the past and has to move into the new world by making new relationships."
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.