Oracle, Microsoft, Do the Monster Mashup

Oracle, Microsoft and talk at separate venues about how they are going to use the cloud to integrate databases and applications for enterprises.

Technology integration and its myriad benefits was the focus of Silicon Valley this week, with one vendor actually delivering on the promise. At the Hadoop summit in San Jose, Calif., the talk was about enterprise platforms that will one day mesh structured and unstructured information to deliver a new era of business applications.

At the Microsoft Build conference in San Francisco the most important news wasn’t the return of the Windows Start button but on Azure application integration. And in the first press conference that made me remember my history courses (“We are not enemies, but friends,” A. Lincoln), CEO Marc Benioff and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison promised fidelity among competing companies and a new era of—once again—enterprise applications.

Hadoop’s promise was more directional and to be fair a very early offering from a product still in beta. Microsoft won the day by not only talking about integrated apps using the Azure platform as the integrating agent but actually showing how it was done.

As for the Salesforce and Oracle press conference statements, there is a long road to go in terms of technology, marketing and product culling before with one click you will select and install Oracle financials using Salesforce’s app marketplace. Here’s the rundown.

Hortonworks is leading the charge in taking Hadoop from an interesting open-source big data infrastructure product (catalog all the pages on the World Wide Web, etc.) to a fundamental piece of enterprise architecture. The model that Hortonworks promotes is to put Hadoop (in its purest form according to the Hortonworks folks) on an equal footing with a company’s traditional data resources (RDBMS,OLAP,OLTP) to create applications that are both data driven and socially aware.

The idea that you can create applications that encompass the entire view of company operations and customer interactions has long been an enterprise goal. But it’s been largely unreachable with the existence of multiple data stores and software-as-a-service applications operating outside the corporate infrastructure. I’d give Hortonworks and Hadoop high marks for the big vision and a wait-and-see attitude if they can make it happen.

I went to Microsoft Build expecting it to be mostly a mea culpa for a muffed Windows 8 delivery. I use Windows 8 and honestly having or not having the Windows Start button in the same old place is not a big deal after about 10 minutes of use.

However, the developer crowd cheered the return of the button, so I won’t push the point. It was during one of those all-morning keynote long marches of demos and dry speeches that Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s corporate president of Windows Azure, did what technology keynoters are supposed to do. He presented traditional sticky problems for system integrators—creating authentication systems that work between on-premises and cloud apps, integrating complicated traditional vendor stacks like SAP into Web-based service.

Then he demonstrated how Microsoft now has tools to ease and speed that integration. These services are really worth investigating in if you are a systems integrator or a corporate app developer. Microsoft does its best when it is solving real problems and staying a bit removed from the vision thing (just not in the company’s DNA), and Guthrie delivered.

Then there was the Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff’s announcement of a supposed technology détente. Marc promised to base his company on Oracle’s database technology essentially forever. Larry promised that Oracle would start using internally.

Both companies promised to do the hard work of integrating each other’s applications instead of leaving a tangled heap for customers to untangle. This one will take time to play out.

Will Oracle now adopt cloud-type pricing and servicing for its product line? Does it forget the $5.8 billion it spent for Siebel Systems? Does Marc also change the underpinnings of This integration will take more than a teleconference to find success.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.