Oracle’s Ellison Rethinks Clouds as Economy Tumbles

larry_ellison_bigOracle (s orcl) CEO Larry Ellison is rethinking his earlier disdain for software as a service and all things cloud, according to a report today in The Wall Street Journal. Maybe a dismal economy and a drop in Oracle sales are forcing him to change his position. The Journal quotes comments made on Oracle’s earnings call yesterday, when Ellison was asked by analysts if the software company would embrace cloud computing. First off, software as a service isn’t cloud computing, but perhaps I’m being too picky here. Anyhow, Ellison said Oracle would be getting “a little bit” into cloud computing, according to the Journal.

But is this really a far cry from Ellison’s early mocking of cloud computing as being driven by whims of fashion? Ellison said he sees a gap in the market between true software as a service and providing on-demand software that’s hosted inside a customer’s own data center. That sounds like software as an appliance rather than anything on demand — and it’s something Oracle already offers through a partnership with Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) that puts its database software on a specialty server that customers pop into their own data centers. Oracle may also be selling some of its Fusion middleware products on demand, or as Ellison said, they could be “on-demand ready.” This is not a very convincing change in position for Oracle.

However, Oracle is buying Sun (s Java), and Sun had a true cloud computing strategy that involved building out infrastructure as a service for compute and storage. Maybe once that deal closes, we’ll see if Oracle wants to take cloud computing all the way up the stack.

Image courtesy of Oracle