One thing is for sure…the cloud has started to make some strange bedfellows.

The cloud is a metaphor really for an intricate set of elements, operating systems, virtualization tools and of course data centers, high-speed networks and security software. Many pundits argue about just how significant the “cloud” is and its future but if the recent actions by Oracle are any indication it is that there is opportunity yet to be discovered.

They must think that if, as recently reported in The Wall Street Journal, they are willing to actively seek out and partner with two of their former foes in order to ensure that their individual products work well together within or as part of a cloud. In the article James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research, said “the alliance should help Microsoft’s Azure compete better with rival cloud services, such as those offered by and also help make Oracle’s offerings more attractive in comparison to so-called “open-source” alternatives that are widely used on the Web these days.”

Handshake concept isolated on white

Add to this Oracle’s simultaneous embrace of and desire to better integrate with it adds yet another signal that competition for cloud building requires cooperation between former rivals. The fact is that many in the know believe this is ultimately a good thing for cloud consumers.

Oracle’s John Foley, Director of Strategic Communications, thinks so and stated in an article for Forbes in July that, “We talk about the cloud as if it’s one big, holistic IT services layer that wraps around the world like, well, the atmosphere. In fact, the cloud is composed of hundreds of separate and distinct clouds and cloud services, and there’s still a long way to go in stitching all of that together. That’s why the agreements announced by four of the market’s leading cloud providers are so significant.”

Oracle’s recent changes to both Weblogic and Coherence were specifically designed to support their place in a cloud structure and to “provide an integrated foundation infrastructure for customers who want to build a cloud infrastructure, for customized applications or applications running under our Fusion middleware,” according to Mike Lehmann, Oracle vice president of product management.

Oracle now describes this set of software, which also includes the Tuxedo application server and recently released Oracle 12c database, as the Oracle Cloud Application Foundation.

This also strengthens the hand of those “so-called” open source solutions.

Companies, particularly smaller firms will eventually need to, probably sooner rather than later, jump on the cloud bandwagon. Bring your own device (BYOD), the need for all companies to have more process automation and an ability to meet ever more challenging IT needs in an unpredictable economy; all could be mitigated by a well constructed private cloud.

For these firms the idea of using a public cloud, like Azure and AWS, is too costly and riddled with too many variables not directly under their control. However many of these same entities are not financially able to utilize or do not have the expertise available to build their own private cloud. For these companies open source platforms like OpenStack allow them to design a cloud, provision the network and data center elements, as well as, deploy it at a far lower cost than proprietary systems offered by the bigger providers.

These smaller companies could benefit from seeking out a development firm well versed in both the traditional systems (Oracle, Microsoft, etc.) as well as able to build using open source systems. A well trained team of developers familiar with both open source cloud operating systems and the entire set of applications and environments it will build the cloud from can build a robust private cloud at a fraction of the cost of these mainstream systems.

Even if you are more inclined to follow the Oracle Weblogic route and build either clouds or individual applications to interact with a cloud, go mobile or simple use as a marketing tool, many of these smaller outsourced application development teams are well suited to helping your business benefit from these advancing technologies.

One thing is for sure, the cloud is not going away and the various forms it will take in the future may well make the difference between a company winning in its marketplace…or losing.