Microsoft and its new SaaS pal, Salesforce.com, announced a surprise partnership around Office 365. My first reaction: This relationship gives me the heebie-jeebies. I decided to explore why.
What bothers me is that Salesforce.com has always made "no software" its rallying cry. But guess what Microsoft sells? Moreover, Salesforce.com always took jabs at Microsoft's focus on enterprise software. Microsoft's focus has not changed a great deal over the years, even with the addition of the Azure public cloud offering. So why does Salesforce.com now see Microsoft as more compatible?
The bottom line is that the Salesforce CRM will not run in Azure, but the company will use Microsoft's cloud for development and testing of ExactTarget, in addition to offering integration between Salesforce and Office 365. I suspect it would cost Salesforce.com a mountain of money and risk to port to Azure, so that can't happen for largely technical reasons. As far as the integration with Office 365, why would it not do so?
When you get down to it, there's not much to this partnership to warrant a joint announcement by their CEOs, Satya Nadella and Marc Benioff. That means something else is going down. Perhaps a deep, more strategic partnership?
I've been saying for a while that Salesforce.com is a likely acquisition target. However, only a few big fish could eat Salesforce.com. Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM are at the top of my list.
Overall, Salesforce.com has been innovative in cloud computing -- and perhaps has not been given enough credit for that innovation. However, the pressures of hitting quarter-on-quarter growth that public companies are compelled to deliver could end up driving it into the arms of another vendor. That may be what happens, though I'm not sure Salesforce.com or Salesforce.com users would benefit from that move.
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