Oracle buys Eloqua Inc., expanding cloud

Despite previous indications from Oracle that it would take a skeptical approach toward the trend of cloud computing, the company's recent purchases of RightOn Technologies and Taleo, specializing in customer relation and talent management, respectively, each signaled the Redwood City, CA company would adopt a more aggressive strategy in the cloud. 

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Reuters reports today that Oracle has purchased Eloqua Inc., a web-based maker of marketing automation software, for approximately $810 million in a bid to expand its cloud offerings. According to the report, the company aims to become a central provider for operating systems, databases, computer programs, and infrastructure available over the web. 

The acquisition by Oracle is seen as a driver for competition over customers who have taken to web services offered by Google, Amazon.com, and Salesforce.com. Eloqua will become the centerpiece of Oracle's marketing service via the cloud, bolstering a growing portfolio of Oracle products and services accessible through the corporate model CEO Larry Ellison once mocked as a semantic fad.

While the cost advantages of the cloud have now been proven for many companies migrating software and service delivery to remote servers, it still remains to be seen how quickly individuals and businesses, accustomed to more direct licensing agreements, will make the corresponding leap. 

It should be enlightening to monitor how products and services catering to diverse fields -- Adobe's Creative Cloud, for example -- are received in the coming year. As one analyst in the Reuters reports notes, Oracle's acquisition of Eloqua will provide an influx of midmarket customers for recurring license maintenance. 

Much of the cloud's future will be determined by the value of pricing plans offered by competitors with similar services, as well as the skyrocketing demand for data storage and analysis. For software products, a quickened stream of updates and support services accessible on the web could be a strong motivating factor for many businesses of different sizes.