It's easy to accuse Oracle of trying to lock up its customers, as nearly all its marketing focuses on how Oracle on Oracle (on Oracle) delivers the best everything, but today Ellison's company and Microsoft signed a joint partnership that empowers customer choice and ultimately will improve Oracle's relevance in the cloud world. 

The Redwood Shores, California software giant signed a key partnership with Microsoft that endorses Oracle on Hyper-V and Windows Azure, which included not just bring-your-own licenses but pay-per-use pricing options. The deal came as part of a Java licensing agreement by Microsoft for Windows Azure, which should help Redmond increase the appeal of its public cloud to a broader developer audience. Forrester's Forrsights Developer Survey Q1 2013 shows that Java and .Net are the #2 and #3 languages used by cloud developers (HTML/Javascript is #1). The Java license does not extend to Microsoft's other products, BTW. 

This deal gives Microsoft clear competitive advantages against two of its top rivals as well. It strengthens Hyper-V against VMware vSphere,as Oracle software is only supported on OracleVM and Hyper-V today. It gives Windows Azure near equal position against Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud platform wars, as the fully licensed support covers all Oracle software (customers bring their own licenses), and pay-per-use licenses will be resold by Microsoft for WebLogic Server, Oracle Linux, and the Oracle database. AWS has a similar support relationship with Oracle and resells the middleware, database, and Oracle Enterprise Manager, plus offers RDS for Oracle, a managed database service.  

Bring your own license terms aren't ideal in the per-hour world of cloud platforms, so the pay-per-use licensing arrangements are key to Oracle's cloud relevance. While this licensing model is limited today, it opens the door to a more holistic move by Oracle down the line. Certainly Oracle would prefer that customers build and deploy their own Fusion applications on the Oracle Public Cloud, but the company is wisely acknowledging the market momentum behind AWS and Windows Azure and ensuring Oracle presence where its customers are going. These moves are also necessary to combat the widespread use of open source alternatives to Oracle's middleware and database products on these new deployment platforms. 

While we can all argue about Oracle's statements made in last week's quarterly earnings call about being the biggest cloud company or having $1B in cloud revenue, it is clearly no longer up for debate as to whether Oracle is embracing the move to cloud. The company is clearly making key moves to cloud-enable its portfolio. Combine today's moves with its SaaS acquisitions, investments in cloud companies and its own platform as a service, and the picture clearly emerges of a company moving aggressively into cloud.  

I guess CEO Ellison no longer feels cloud is yesterday's business as usual.