Nadella Befriends Salesforce To Step Up Mobile-Cloud Effort

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 02, 2014

cloud partnership

Ever since Satya Nadella stepped in as Microsoft’s CEO, the tech giant is all geared up on its mobile-first-cloud-first vision. His first step was to make Office available on Apple’s iPad. The latest is that Microsoft joins hand with long-time rival Salesforce.com to integrate the latter’s apps into its Windows and online Office platforms including Office 365, Outlook Microsoft Azure and Windows Phone. The new development is expected to further strengthen the company’s position in mobile devices and the cloud.

The focus of this partnership suggests that Salesforce’s popular customer-management apps will be available on Windows desktop PCs, tablets and mobile devices, while Salesforce users will be able to access Microsoft Office content such as Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, according to a company statement, which however, does not discuss the terms of the deal.

While Salesforce has been a pioneer in cloud software, Microsoft has long been criticized by industry analysts as a laggard to the cloud-based, subscription software which is increasingly getting popular especially in the mid-sized enterprises.

The two companies have also shared a very hostile business relationship until now - aggressively hitting each other through different marketing and legal pursuits. Naturally, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, a former Apple executive, often criticized Microsoft’s reliance on installed software. Microsoft always remained a direct competitor of Salesforce.com.

But the current situation has seen a shift from the past. “Nadella recognized the need to partner as the company cannot do this alone,” Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets told Reuters. “Salesforce remains the pioneer of cloud computing and this significantly expands Microsoft’s cloud opportunity,” he says.

“We are excited to partner with salesforce.com and help customers thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said in a statement. “Working together we’ll deliver new solutions that connect the customer insights of Salesforce to the cloud productivity of Office 365, the cloud platform of Azure and the mobility of Windows, so our customers can do more.”

Benioff seems to have changed his opinion for good. “Today is about putting the customer first,” he said. “Together with Microsoft, we are building bridges that allow customers to be more productive.”

Nadella said in his statement that Microsoft will continue to have interest in forming similar partnerships to “add value to the entire industry.”