Facing seismic tech shift, rivals Microsoft and Oracle team up

Jun 24, 2013

 (Update: Corrects to say Ellison hired investigators to comb through trash of groups sympathetic to Microsoft, not Microsoft's own trash.)

A seismic shift in technology is pushing two longtime archrivals to work together. Oracle and Microsoft are announcing a cloud-computing partnership later Monday.

There’s a history of bad blood between the folks out in Redmond and Oracle, run by billionaire yacht-owner Larry Ellison. Some people may remember the dumpster-diving incident 13 years ago. Ellison hired private investigators to rummage through the trash of groups sympathetic to Microsoft during the antitrust case.

But now, the shift to cloud computing—including the threat from Amazon—is pushing the two fierce competitors to cooperate. Rob Helm is an analyst at the research firm Directions on Microsoft.

"I can’t picture Bill Gates and Larry Ellison sitting down together and swaying and singing kumbaya, ever, but there are people inside each company that have to work together whether they like it or not," Helm said. 

Microsoft and Oracle compete in lots of markets from database software to business applications and operating systems.

But Helm says they also have lots of customers that run, say, Oracle databases on Windows, so they have to cooperate to make sure the software can function together. Now it appears they’re prepared to work together even more, but maybe grudgingly.