Oracle Unveils Mammoth Cloud Software Line

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison finally acknowledged the firm’s shift to cloud computing Wednesday, an idea that the CEO had frequently mocked as a passing fad.

The firm officially announced the transition at its Redwood Shotes, Calif., headquarters, where Ellison hailed Oracle’s plans to distribute more than 100 business software applications over the Internet instead of selling them as products that have to be installed on individual office computers.

The company is calling the set of offerings Oracle Public Cloud, which, according to Ellison, is the culmination of nearly seven years of development and billions of dollars of investment. The offerings will affect tasks such as sales and human resources management, as well as a company’s database software.

The Associated Press reported that “despite all the manpower and money that Oracle poured into its cloud computing expansion, the company still couldn’t build everything on its own. To fill in the gaps, Oracle has spent more than $3.5 billion buying some of the early pioneers in cloud computing, including RightNow Technologies and Taleo.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Tuesday “Oracle said it would acquire Collective Intellect Inc., which tracks and analyzes customers’ comments on social media. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.”

While Oracle’s announcement points to a further consolidation in the HR technology industry and move toward cloud computing, Ellison was the focus of plenty of banter from industry bloggers and reporters eager to rib the outspoken CEO about showing up late to the party.

Wednesday also marked Ellison’s arrival to Twitter, in which he posted his first tweet, not surprisingly taking a jab at Oracle’s prime rival, SAP. “Oracle’s got 100+ enterprise applications live in the ‪#cloud‬ today, SAP’s got nothin’ but SuccessFactors until 2020.”

SAP, along with other conventional HR software makers, has also embraced the cloud recently. Last month SAP offered $4.3 billion for supplier network service Ariba Inc.; earlier, it bought HR software company SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion. SAP announced its cloud service last month, which currently offers 24 apps.

What does this mean for talent managers? Talent Management magazine Editorial Director Mike Prokopeak opined in this blog post in February, when news dropped that Oracle had purchased Taleo, that choices are both “richer and more limited.”

“The analytic capabilities resulting from the marriage of data and application is powerful and part of a longer term trend in talent management that promises to push talent management to the holy land: the seat at the table,” he wrote.

But it also limits competition in the market, which could ultimately drive up the price for these services.

Oracle, meanwhile, reportedly aims to reach $1 billion in cloud revenue this year. And  Ellison, who has accumulated nearly 23,000 followers since his Twitter debut, appears to have both new ammunition and a new communication vehicle to take shots at SAP and other rivals … for now.