Oracle CTO Larry Ellison famously dismissed the high-tech industry’s “nonsensical” obsession with cloud computing just five years ago. Now, he calls it an “inflection point” for the company he founded in 1977.
“Our cloud strategy has been about building and buying,” Ellison proclaimed during his speech Sunday night at Oracle’s annual customer conference in San Francisco, referring to the massive investment it has made since 2008.
For starters, Oracle (ORCL) offers 100s of enterprise planning, human resources and marketing applications delivered as a service—more than any other company. He offered mind-numbing product lists and customer statistics as proof to the detriment of competitors, particularly Salesforce (mentioned frequently during his hour-long talk), Workday and SAP.
Far more compelling to long-time Oracle customers are new technologies outlined by Ellison that let them “move any Oracle database to the cloud by pushing a button.” This service—supported with 19 state-of-the-art data centers—will position the company as a formidable competitor to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and other companies that offer storage and server capacity as a service.
“Oracle helps you modernize while preserving your investment,” Ellison said.
This particular technology was actually first introduced and hinted at two years ago. What’s different now is Oracle’s decision to offer the same commodity pricing as Amazon, Google and others, plus its big focus on embedding transaction acceleration and data protection into this service. “It’s the most important piece of engineering we’ve done in security for a long time,” Ellison said.
By the way, if businesses want to move a database back into an on-site data center later, that’s not a problem with Oracle’s service, he said. It’s also not something that’s easy to do with competitive cloud offerings.
All of these things are a major point of differentiation between Oracle and its enterprise application rivals.
“We have to do this because of the promise we made to our customers more than 30 years ago,” he said, referring to Oracle’s long-time commitment to ensuring compatibility between different generations of its software.
Another thing Oracle will use to support its sales argument: 19 out of the 20 top players in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) world use Oracle’s database to run some or all of their services including Salesforce, SAP and NetSuite, according to Ellison. The holdout is human resources apps company Workday.
This item first appeared in the Sept. 29 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.