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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison wasn’t able to contain himself on the company’s earnings conference call Thursday afternoon. First he said that the company will announce partnerships with “the largest and most important SaaS companies and infrastructure companies in the cloud” involving Oracle’s new 12c database technology. Then he just went ahead and announced their names, including and Microsoft.

Ellison promised they would be “startling series” of announcements.

Microsoft quickly released a statement confirming a news teleconference planned for Monday afternoon with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and server and cloud chief Satya Nadella, along with Oracle President Mark Hurd.

The involvement of such high-level execs in a new partnership between the companies is somewhat startling, or at least notable given their longstanding rivalry. Microsoft generally doesn’t trot Ballmer out for these types of things unless it’s a significant partnership, although it’s notable that Ellison himself isn’t among the named participants.

The implication is that Microsoft will use Oracle’s 12c in conjunction with Windows Azure in some form. That notion is “a bit ironic since Microsoft has long been a database competitor to Oracle’s database with SQL Server,” writes Rick Sherlund, an analyst for Nomura Research, who covers both companies. “This could be an important endorsement for 12c and maybe Oracle’s hardware should this be true.”

Neither company is providing more details in advance, but 12c is getting attention because it introduces the concept of multi-tenancy at the database level, making it easier and more efficient for more than one company to share the same piece of hardware.

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