Oracle CEO Larry Ellison hasn't exactly been the biggest proponent of 'the cloud'. In fact, in 2008 he went so far as to state that the cloud is "the Webvan of computing".
To be sure, the cloud isn't without its problems, and as a buzzword, it's a bit worn.
But the rise of services like Amazon AWS has proven one thing: the cloud, for better or worse, is here to stay.
Ellison knows that and yesterday, at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference, he took the stage to announce Oracle's new cloud offering, the Oracle Public Cloud.
The Public Cloud, which the company bills as "an enterprise cloud for your business", offers several Oracle applications, Fusion CRM, Fusion HCM and Social Network, as a service.
It also contains a platform-as-a-service offering for Java and Oracle Database 11g. Like most cloud services, the Oracle Public Cloud is a self-managed solution.
Customers can select the level of resources they need, and upgrade or downgrade as their scaling needs change. There are no long-term commitments, so customers can come and go as they please.
Oracle's launch of a homegrown cloud offering is quite significant, even if the company is fairly late to the cloud party.
While it hasn't exactly shunned the cloud (Oracle software is available through Amazon AWS, for instance) and the latest generation of internet startups has largely done without Oracle, the company's software is still considered the gold standard in many large enterprises. Those enterprises spend billions of dollars on Oracle software every year.
The direct availability of some of that software through Oracle, particularly Oracle Database 11g, as a cloud service will shake up some portions of the cloud market.
Ellison wasted no time, for instance, in targeting Salesforce.com, calling its cloud "stickier than a roach motel" and criticizing Salesforce.com's multi-tenancy architecture. "Beware of false clouds" he reiterated to OpenWorld attendees.
Who wins? It's likely companies targeting enterprise customers (like Salesforce.com) will have to compete far more with the Oracle Public Cloud than companies like Google and Amazon, which aren't as reliant on enterprise customers.
Oracle's tentacles reach deep into many organizations, and it has a lot of credibility and leverage with IT executives at its customers, so this will be a very interesting space to watch.