ExactTarget is not something Office 365 or Salesforce customers see. It's not a "customer-facing feature," a Microsoft spokesperson conceded earlier this year when I asked for more details. Instead, Microsoft uses ExactTarget to market Office 365. And, in exchange, Salesforce has committed to use more SQL Server internally to power its ExactTarget service. It also is using Azure for ExactTarget for development and test. It's basically a tit-for-tat situation.
It's interesting that Microsoft still hasn't announced any kind of beefed up partnership with Red Hat, even though there have been recent rumblings that the pair might finally be ready to announce Red Hat Linux will become one of the handful of Linux distributions available in a virtual machine on Azure. Currently, the Linux distributions Microsoft supports on Azure include Ubuntu, CentOS, Oracle Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise and openSUSE.
I've heard from some of my contacts that it's Red Hat putting the brakes on Microsoft overtures to add Red Hat Linux to the list. I've heard from others that it's Microsoft holding things up.
"While we can imagine that a partnership, which respects each party’s business model and open source, could be possible for Red Hat technologies on Azure, we do not comment on market rumors," a Red Hat spokesperson told me when I asked about these rumblings. The spokesperson added "We note that Red Hat already has partnering arrangements of substance with Microsoft — certifying and supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Hyper-V, and Windows Server running on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization."
Don't get me wrong: It's refreshing to see Microsoft and other vendors behave in ways that could and should benefit their joint customers. It doesn't make for as many fun headlines, but it's better for users. But it's also important to separate real impact from image in assessing new alliances and partnerships.