In surprise move, NetSuite bares broad cloud alliance with Microsoft

SAN JOSE, California – At the annual SuiteWorld conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared via video to tell attendees that his company and NetSuite have entered into a strategic cloud alliance to create solutions that will connect NetSuite’s cloud ERP to Microsoft Office 365, Windows, and Microsoft Azure.

NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson discussing his company's collaboration with Microsoft

NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson discussing his company’s collaboration with Microsoft

The announcement of the tie-up was one of the highlights of the keynote speech of Zach Nelson, chief executive of NetSuite CEO, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

Although a little surprising, the agreement between cloud purveyor NetSuite and traditional software vendor Microsoft is not totally shocking. Nadella, Microsoft’s new maverick CEO, has led the company’s march into the cloud territory and has struck a similar deal with cloud provider Salesforce.com. But, while NetSuite is seen as an ascendant player in the cloud sphere, Salesforce.com is said to be in decline and currently mired in buy-out talks.

“We’re at the ‘end of the beginning’ of the cloud, in that the cloud business model that NetSuite pioneered in 1998 is becoming the de facto standard for how fast-growth businesses are run,” said Nelson.

“We’re thrilled to work with Microsoft to deliver a fluid cloud environment across the key NetSuite and Microsoft applications that companies and their employees rely on to continually improve their day-to-day operations and run their business better and more efficiently.”

In a separate interview with members of the Philippine tech media, Nelson said the partnership would benefit both companies as NetSuite clients, which still utilize Microsoft applications such as Office 365 as productivity suite, can continue to use and leverage on their familiarity with Microsoft products.

Nelson said the tie-up would also entail recommending Microsoft’s solutions to NetSuite customers in areas where the San Mateo, California-based cloud company does not have a clear product or advantage.

“I’m excited about NetSuite’s support for Azure Active Directory for single sign-on, cloud-to-cloud integration and increasing our collaboration across mobile and cloud solutions,” stated Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of developer platform and evangelism and chief evangelist for Microsoft.

“Our joint vision is all about giving people the freedom to get more done through the broadening set of devices they interact with that in turn helps businesses innovate and grow.”

The collaboration pairs NetSuite’s cloud ERP suite with Microsoft cloud technology in both the near and short term.

Under the deal, an integration between NetSuite and Azure Active Directory will enable a single sign-on (SSO) for customers using NetSuite together with Azure Active Directory, eliminating the need for users to manage and use multiple passwords.

The integration also gives administrators centralized control of user authentication and password management while enabling organizations to strengthen role-based approaches to business management.

Built using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0, the integration reduces the security risks of user-managed passwords while providing additional protection against phishing and other threats.

In the coming months, NetSuite and Microsoft will also start cloud-to-cloud integration between NetSuite and Office 365, providing seamless access to both technologies from within a single interface and improving productivity and collaboration across a variety of roles — from financials to shipping, marketing, ecommerce, business analytics, retail store associates, among others.

Through integration with Microsoft Excel, customers will be able to connect NetSuite data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information and discover new insights into their business.

Additionally, NetSuite will migrate its entire employee base to Office 365, realizing significant value in alignment between the world’s leading productivity system and NetSuite’s cloud business management suite.

By the end of 2015, NetSuite also will migrate from AWS and on-premise deployments to leverage Azure as its preferred cloud infrastructure platform and take full advantage of the capabilities of Azure for testing and for developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and customers to build new software applications and integrations that leverage NetSuite’s cloud business management suite and the storage and compute capabilities of Azure.

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