Cloud computing: Oracle and Microsoft make your database look like it's part of Azure

The new service will let you split workloads across Oracle and Azure while essentially operating as if it's on one cloud.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

For big businesses, Microsoft has become the cloud-computing provider of choice. Many of these companies, however, still use Oracle databases to run core parts of their business. 

The two tech giants have already seized on that overlap, creating an interconnect that offers direct network connectivity between Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. They're taking the partnership one step further now, building a new service that makes it easier to leverage that interconnect. The Oracle Database Service for Microsoft Azure effectively serves as a portal that lets joint customers use Oracle database services that look and operate as if they were a native part of Azure. 

"The things that you would traditionally do with a database service should be available, by default, in Azure," Karan Batta, VP of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said to ZDNet. "You can squint a little bit and basically combine the two clouds. We think of it as one experience."

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For the past couple of years, Oracle has been making it easier to use its products with other cloud providers -- a kind of "if you can't beat them, join them" approach to the cloud. While Oracle has been a major force in enterprise technology for decades, it was late to the game when it came to offering public cloud services. 

Even if that weren't the case, extending its services beyond its own cloud makes sense, given that most businesses have already adopted a multi-cloud approach. Businesses like Snowflake have become extremely valuable because they help organizations move data across different clouds. 

The long-term vision for the new service, Batta said, is for it to be fully integreated into Microsoft Azure -- just like Snowflake. 

"We've built a facade that looks and feels and operates like Azure, but we could throw that away, and Azure would just be able to integrate directly into this," he said. 

The new portal is an extension of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), so everything launched there communicates with OCI -- but also with Azure. At launch, customers can use it to access three of Oracle's major services: its Autonomous Database, its basic database service and Exadata Database Service. Later in the year, Oracle will add MySQL HeatWave. 

Since launching their joint interconnect service about a year-and-a-half ago, customers have been using it to move data between the two different cloud providers. The service already has more than 300 organizations using it. Customers could use the interconnect to build applications across the two clouds, but they would have had to do all the heavy lifting. This new service, however, will make it easier to maintain workloads that leverage both OCI and Azure. 

With the interconnect, Batta said, "we hoped customers would treat this as a single cloud, almost. But now we actually have the capability to do that."

The multi-cloud control plane that lets you operate the new service is designed to look like an Azure service. It provides a complete view of your data and applications. A customer could, for instance, use it to monitor their compute nodes in Azure, app analytics in Microsoft's Power BI and an Oracle database. 

If a customer prefers, they can punch out of the interface and return to the Oracle console. Conversely, an Azure customer using this service would never have to go to the Oracle console if they didn't want to. The control panel offers metrics and observability, and the service offers joint support from Microsoft and Oracle. 

While the service brings OCI services closer to Microsoft, Oracle intends to bring its services closer to other clouds as well. It's also exploring bringing Microsoft Azure services closer to OCI.

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