Microsoft and Salesforce are integrating Salesforce’s highly successful Customer Relationship Management Software-as-a-Service offering with Microsoft’s Windows operating systems for PCs and mobile devices and its Office 365 suite of SaaS applications.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the partnership on a call with press and analysts Thursday. The expanded partnership between the companies – which have been and will continue to be competitors in some areas – also includes use by some Salesforce development teams of Microsoft’s Azure cloud offerings.
The partners expect to start previewing Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 in in the fall of 2014, general availability slated for 2015. Timeline for interoperability between Salesforce and Office 365 was not provided.
The companies did not disclose terms of the agreement.
Both firms focus on core strengths
The partnership is about combining Microsoft’s core strategy, focused on Office 365 and Windows, with the core strategy of Salesforce, which revolves around its CRM applications, to create more value for users, Benioff said.
“The reason that these relationships work is because Microsoft’s core strategy is Windows and Office,” he said. “That’s where the revenue comes from.” The same is true for Salesforce and its CRM products.
“We both want to grow our revenues, so we know we need to be investing in our core and our strategies.”
Nadella said that going forward such partnerships would be crucial for Microsoft, which is focused on building a strong platform play, suggesting that more deals along similar lines were to be expected in the future.
“We want to be a broad platform provider in this mobile-first, cloud-first world,” he said. “I want to approach partnerships that really add value to the entire industry.”
While there will continue to be areas where the two companies will compete, Microsoft’s recently appointed CEO said, the market calls for providers with broad partnership bases and a platform approach.
One of the biggest areas the companies compete in is Platform-as-a-Service. In addition to CRM, Salesforce has a very popular PaaS offering called Heroku, which competes with Microsoft’s Azure PaaS.
Azure just another tool in the bag
More use of Azure by Salesforce developers simply meant more variety in the way the company builds its services, Benioff said. Heroku, for example, is built on Amazon Web Services’ cloud infrastructure, while developers of Salesforce’s core CRM products deploy on dedicated infrastructure in the company’s data centers.
The partnership announced Thursday is an opportunity to make more services from Azure available as appropriate.
But Salesforce customers should not have to worry about the nuts and bolts of the infrastructure their CRM service runs on. While the company makes its own infrastructure choices transparent to its customers, “in no case do the customers have to be aware of what’s underneath,” Benioff said.
All they need to know is whether they are having a great experience using Office 365 or Salesforce, he explained.