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Rival tech companies trade hostility for hugs

Tech rivals known for their cutthroat competition are entering into novel partnerships for a reason that highlights the biggest need among tech customers: cloud storage.

Corporate clients in the tech sector are storing more data, and they want to be able to access it anywhere and use it in multiple applications. By 2019, 90 percent of workloads will be in the cloud, according to Cisco.

Amazon Web Services, which commands about 30 percent of the cloud storage market, announced an alliance with VMWare last week. The partnership will allow firms that already use VMWare in their business to run their software on AWS in addition to private servers.

Jerry Chen, partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, said many vendors are playing this type of "cloud chess" in order to give their customers complete offerings.

Microsoft, the second-largest player in cloud storage, is also tying up with another tech heavyweight. The company recently partnered with Adobe, the force behind Photoshop and Illustrator software packages. Adobe named Microsoft Azure its "preferred cloud platform," and Microsoft dubbed Adobe Cloud Marketing its "preferred marketing service."

The two companies will work together on data integration so customers can work across the Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Marketing Cloud business applications.

The cloud storage market is dominated by a few major firms: AWS, Microsoft, IBM and Google collectively control well more than half the worldwide cloud infrastructure services market, Synergy Research Group estimates. Analysts at Forrester predict that AWS will produce $12 billion this year, more than half of all the revenue the entire public cloud market is expected to generate.

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Hybrid cloud offerings, like the ones offered by AWS /VMWare and Microsoft/Adobe, are expected to be used by 80 percent of IT organizations by 2018, according to IDC estimates.

Cloud start-up Nutanix saw its shares rise more than 130 percent after its IPO last month by offering a version of hybrid cloud service.

As the trend continues, cloud experts say they expect that more players in the cloud will differentiate themselves — and seek relationships — based on complementary cloud offerings.