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Google, Salesforce team up in cloud, after takeover speculation

(Bloomberg) -- Google and Salesforce.com Inc. unveiled a broad partnership on Monday that pairs their corporate software and cloud-computing services, a deal that follows speculation earlier this year the companies were headed for an even bigger combination.

The new alliance ties key, complementary services in marketing analytics and cloud-computing. Salesforce clients that don’t currently use G Suite, Google’s package of workplace software, will get the offerings free for one year.

Google’s Analytics 360 service, a tool for managing marketing data, will also be integrated with Salesforce’s products, giving clients new ways to track sales and advertising information. In addition, Salesforce will add Google’s cloud service to an existing list of certified partners for its clients that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s offering.

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A Salesforce.Com Inc. logo sits on an illuminated iCloud lightbox hanging from the ceiling at the CeBIT 2017 tech fair in Hannover, Germany, on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Leading edge technologies in the digital world are showcased in this annual event which runs March 20 - 24. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Earlier this year, some analysts and investors speculated that Salesforce could be a takeover target for larger technology companies including Google. In February, an influential research firm, Arete Research Services LLP, argued in a report that Google should pay $73 billion for Salesforce to give its cloud business surer footing in enterprise sales. Google declined to comment on the possibility of an acquisition at the time.

The new partnership may provide similar benefits. Alphabet Inc.’s Google adds a new corporate channel to spread its products, while Salesforce gets help selling more of its services for managing customer relationships or handling marketing demands.

"We have a lot of mutual customers," Ryan Aytay, a business-development executive at Salesforce, said. “There’s a lot of demand for us to work more closely together."

Partnering has become the central strategy for Google to advance its cloud service, which is third in market share behind Amazon and Microsoft Corp. Last month, Google unveiled a tie-up with Cisco Systems Inc., letting customers deploy software on the cloud or on traditional, in-house technology gear.

"That’s what our customers are doing," Tariq Shaukat, a Google Cloud sales executive, said. "They’re using Cisco hardware. They’re using Salesforce."