Dina Bass and Nico Grant (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc. are connecting more of their software and Salesforce will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud for part of its business, a thaw in a relationship that grew chilly several years ago when both companies pursued the same acquisition.
The agreement, to connect some of Salesforce’s software with Microsoft’s Teams corporate chat and use Azure for Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, expands an existing strategic relationship forged in the early days of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s tenure. But the relationship grew strained in 2016 after Microsoft beat Salesforce to acquire LinkedIn and Salesforce complained to European regulators about the deal. The two companies have not announced any partnerships since.
Microsoft and Salesforce compete for customers who want cloud-based software programs for customer management. Nadella, who once ran that business for Microsoft, has invested more effort into bolstering his company’s products in that area. The LinkedIn purchase was a key part of that plan, and Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff was said to have been angered at Microsoft’s actions. Still the two companies, among the biggest makers of cloud-based corporate applications, have many areas in which they can cooperate and Microsoft wants to lure large technology company customers to Azure, which trails cloud-computing market leader Amazon.com Inc.
As part of the deal, Salesforce will connect its Sales Cloud and Service Cloud with Microsoft’s Teams, the companies said Thursday in a statement. Teams is trying to gain customers from rival Slack Technologies Inc.
Salesforce had previously run Marketing Cloud on its internal systems, but uses other cloud providers for different parts of its business. The San Francisco-based company has leveraged infrastructure cloud deals as a way to sweeten partnerships. In 2017, as part of a tie-up with Alphabet Inc. to connect Google Analytics to Salesforce programs, Salesforce said it would host some of its core services on Google Cloud Platform as it expands globally—calling Google a “preferred public cloud provider.” The following year, Salesforce dubbed International Business Machines Corp. a "preferred cloud services provider" as part of an alliance to use IBM’s artificial intelligence with Salesforce software. It also does business with Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft and Salesforce's deepening partnership in some areas comes amid greater competition between the companies elsewhere. Salesforce said in June it would pay more than $15 billion to buy Tableau Software Inc., a maker of analytics programs. Tableau and Microsoft compete in the market for business intelligence software.