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Once a basher, now a believer, Oracle chief Larry Ellison has come full circle on cloud computing

Brandon Butler | Sept. 26, 2012
No longer disparaging, Oracle czar Larry Ellison now sings the praises of cloud computing.

No longer disparaging, Oracle czar Larry Ellison now sings the praises of cloud computing.

As recently as 2009, Ellison was one of the industry's biggest cloud-bashers, questioning what the cloud really was, accusing venture investors of latching on to the latest fad and dismissing the cloud the hot fashionable buzzword of the day.

But since then Ellison's views on the cloud seem to have evolved. Today he's out and about speaking of the benefits of Oracle's ever-expanding cloud offerings. Last week he even spilled the beans on news his company will make at its OpenWorld show next week, expanding the Oracle cloud from a software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) play into the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market.

Some say Ellison's disparaging views of cloud reflected the threat cloud software vendors, such as, Amazon Web Services and others, could play to Oracle. Others say it's just Larry being Larry. "Take Larry for what he is," says Michael Fauscette, an IDC analyst who covers Oracle. "He says a lot of things to be controversial." Now the question is what, if anything, Ellison's FUD-spreading in the cloud will mean for Oracle's own plans in this space.

Ellison's views of cloud computing could be described as having evolved during the past five years. There are multiple YouTube clips of Ellison disparaging cloud computing, calling it a fad, nonsense and "gibberish."

"When is this idiocy going to stop?" Ellison said at a 2008 analyst conference (watch video here). "What the hell is cloud computing?" he has asked multiple times publicly. In that video Ellison goes on to say Oracle will get into the cloud for marketing and sales. "Whatever, we'll make cloud computing announcements because, you know, if orange is the new pink, then we'll make orange blouses," he says. "I mean, I'm not going to fight this thing ... maybe we'll do an ad. I don't understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing other than marketing, than, you know, change the wording on some of our ads. It's crazy."

A year later, Ellison was equally dismissive of the cloud, saying that it has become an all-encompassing term to define anything in enterprise computing. "My objection is the absurdity," he says, before launching into a colorful rant, while taking a shot at venture capital investors spreading the hype about cloud.

Since then, Ellison has seemed to come around to the idea of the cloud though. During the past two years Oracle has been aggressively building out a broad cloud strategy through both internal development and major spending on mergers and acquisitions. Two years ago at Oracle OpenWorld Ellison said Oracle's cloud would be a "comprehensive development and execution environment that could run virtually all of your applications." This summer Ellison held a much-hyped press conference in which he changed the name of the company's cloud strategy from Oracle Fusion to Oracle Cloud.


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