Microsoft has grabbed a huge customer from Salesforce: HP

Satya NadellaGetty Images/Mat Hayward

Microsoft has signed a six-year agreement with HP for its Salesforce-killer cloud software Microsoft Dynamics.

Dynamics is Microsoft's "customer relationship management" (CRM) tool, which helps salespeople track interactions with customers and prospects.

It's not surprising that HP would cozy up to Microsoft in this way. HP is the PC/printer company that was created after HP split itself into two companies and it is very dependent on Microsoft and on Windows for its PC business. The two companies have always been close partners in all sorts of ways.

But there's a catch. Prior to the split, HP was a very prominent customer of Salesforce. Back in 2012, HP not only signed on to use Salesforce's CRM tool, Sales Cloud, it then signed on to use a bunch of other related stuff from Salesforce. HP was one of Salesforce.com's largest deals that year.

HP was such a huge customer at the time that it was using Salesforce software on its own computer servers and hardware in Salesforce's data center, a partnership named "The Superpod." The two also turned the Superpod into a product available for sale for other enterprises.

Superpod should have become the domain of the other company created in the split, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, leaving HP Inc. free to hire its own CRM from somewhere else.

And Microsoft won. Ever since Microsoft failed to buy Salesforce, Microsoft has been doubling down on competing with Salesforce.

Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion, famously snatching it out of Salesforce's hands, to help beef up its Dynamics software and challenge Salesforce even more. Meanwhile, Salesforce bought a Microsoft Office competitor, Quip, and indicated that it's game-on with Microsoft.

Salesforce could not be immediately for comment.

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