Bloomberg reports Microsoft (MSFT +0.1%) and Salesforce (CRM +2.2%) are near a deal that will allow Salesforce's cloud CRM apps to run on Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure/app development (IaaS/PaaS) platform. The companies are also reportedly discussing a data-integration deal involving Salesforce's apps and Office.
The report is particularly notable in light of the rivalry between the companies: Microsoft's Dynamics CRM apps (offered both on-premise and over the cloud) compete against Salesforce's apps, and Azure squares off against Salesforce's Heroku and (to a lesser extent) Force.com PaaS platforms.
But Satya Nadella has made it clear he's willing to increase Redmond's support for rival products/platforms when customers demand it. Microsoft is also intent on pulling out all the stops to challenge Amazon's public cloud leadership; Azure revenue rose 150% Y/Y in the March quarter.
Last year, Salesforce struck a data integration deal with another major rival, Oracle. That deal also called for Salesforce to standardize to buy Oracle's Exadata systems and standardize on its databases/middleware. More recently, Salesforce launched a service that lets Heroku apps built by third parties integrate with Salesforce's apps.