Oracle, Ellison and fun with cloud computing sound bites

If the cloud were a political campaign, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's quips could become interesting fodder.

If Oracle CEO Larry Ellison were running a cloud computing political campaign he could be haunted by comments when they were reduced to sound bites. The reality of Ellison's cloud computing opinion is a bit more nuanced.

Ellison has been riffing on cloud computing for years. He holds a good bit of disdain for the term even as Oracle talks cloud computing, acquires companies like Taleo and RightNow and lumps his on-demand and on-premise CRM tools into a customer experience bucket.

The truth is that Ellison's cloud comments are more nuanced. He has argued that servers and Exadata machines are part of the cloud. These infrastructure building blocks are also "elastic" even though I never quite figured out how you'd scale down. Do you send an Exadata box back via FedEx?

Ellison's quotes are worth evaluating given his comments at the AllThingsD conference on Wednesday. After all, SAP has also gone cloud happy and is going for the big bang acquisitions---SuccessFactors and Ariba---as Oracle goes with a more tuck-in purchase approach. If SAP wanted treat cloud computing as a political campaign it could have a lot of fun with Ellison's sound bites over the years.

Here's what Ellison said in 2008:

The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?

We'll make cloud computing announcements. I'm not going to fight this thing. But I don't understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud.

Nearly four years later, Oracle is planning a big cloud services push.

Also: CNET: Ellison warns of Oracle's cloud shadow

At the D10 conference, Ellison also noted the cloud conundrum. Here's an excerpt via Arik Hesseldahl from the Ellison interview with Kara Swisher:

Larry: When the Internet first started, the primary device connected to it was the personal computer. Every network has enormously complex components that are hidden from consumers. The PC network was very different. The PC was very complex, and was attached to a complex network.

Now we’ve migrated that complexity off the desktop and moved it to Internet servers. That has been recast as cloud computing.

Kara: Why did you resist the name “cloud computing”?

Larry: I objected to people saying, “Oh my God, we just invented cloud computing.”

Kara: You just don’t like the words “cloud computing.”

Larry: I like the words. It’s a charismatic brand. And people do need to simplify their existing data centers and deliver services in simpler ways.

Nothing Ellison said is all that controversial. Cloud computing is a term that has been beaten to death. And yes the cloud happens to have a data center behind it. Ellison also knows that he needs to start selling Oracle's cloud and join the bandwagon.

Add up those moving parts and there could be quite the cloud marketing war about to start.

Related: Ellison 'to tweet' announcement of new Oracle cloud-based products