by Tom Taulli | May 31, 2012 2:11 pm
Cloud computing has become a huge growth industry, as seen with companies like Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM). This business leverages Internet technologies — which tend to be cheaper than traditional software — and usually involves companies charging customers on a subscription basis.
But at least one person hasn’t wholly been taken by storm. Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison — according to yesterday’s interview at the AllThingsD conference — is annoyed by the out-of-nowhere perception many have of the technology.
Ellison believes the cloud is really “a continuous, step-by-step evolution.” After all, Salesforce.com and NetSuite (NYSE:N) — the latter of which Ellison initially funded, and still owns 45% — got their start about 13 years ago. So he’s certainly right: The cloud truly is not a new breakthrough technology.
During the past three decades, Ellison has seen his share of new-fangled trends, and he has navigated his company through many of these changes, allowing Oracle to thrive. Yet one of the criticisms lobbed against Ellison is that he has been slow to adopt cloud technologies for Oracle.
While somewhat true, his reasoning was sound: He wanted to maximize revenues from the company’s core products before making a jump into something new. Now, Oracle has tremendous resources to buy cloud companies and leverage its distribution. Already, it has acquired top operators like RightNow and Taleo, and it easily could make more deals in the future.
Plus, the company has not been completely shunning the cloud all this time. Oracle is expected to launch an extensive suite of applications next week, which took six years of development.
In the meantime, many of Oracle’s rivals — giants like IBM (NYSE:IBM), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — have been on the sidelines.
The value of the cloud is likely to accrue to major companies like Oracle. Simply put, they have the infrastructure and customers footprints to get incremental value from it. Oracle itself also enjoys another advantage: Databases are critical for this technology.
In short, the cloud hardly took Ellison by storm — and Oracle is nicely positioned to continue to benefit from the technology. The company has made well-timed investments and should be able to manage the transition.
Investors also should be able to manage a transition into ORCL stock should they believe in Ellison’s aim: ORCL’s valuation currently is a reasonable 13 times earnings.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “The Complete M&A Handbook”, “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli or reach him via email. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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