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Watch out world: The sky’s the limit on Oracle’s cloud spending

June 3, 2015, 11:51 AM UTC
Key Speakers At Oracle's 2012 OpenWorld Conference
Larry Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., speaks during the Oracle OpenWorld 2012 conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. Ellison said in an interview with CNBC today that he'll use the company's cash to boost dividends gradually over time, rather than to make big acquisitions. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Oracle is amping up its activity on the cloud front. The company (ORCL) is in the hunt for top-tier cloud computing talent and is trying its best to poach them from rivals such as Microsoft and Amazon but most especially Google, sources said.

In some cases the database giant offered to double the salaries of key players. “The sky really was the limit,” said one Google source who requested anonymity.

Google is probably in the crosshairs because Peter Magnusson, the former Google (GOOG) exec behind Google App Engine, is now cloud poobah for Oracle in Redwood Shores, Calif. Suffice it to say Magnusson knows the talent pool just down the road at Google HQ.

In addition, the database giant has purchased the intellectual property of Nebula, an OpenStack company that closed its doors in April. The news that Oracle hired some 40 engineers and developers from Nebula went public in May, but there was no confirmation on whether it snapped up Nebula’s technology trove as well. It has. (To confuse matters, Oracle also bought Nimbula, another OpenStack cloud player, two years ago.)

In May, Magnusson told Re/Code that the incoming Nebula staffers would work on Oracle’s planned response to Amazon’s (AMZN) cloud infrastructure which lets a developer easily set up and pay for computing power by the hour, or in the case of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, by the minute.

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google are the three big players in this market, with Amazon leading the pack by far. That self-service aspect of cloud is something that Oracle still needs to work on although it has been in the software-as-a-service market for years, competing with Salesforce (CRM) in business applications. Even rivals privately admit that Oracle’s database-as-a-service is doing very well. But face, it, if Oracle can’t do database in the cloud, it had better fold its tent.

Oracle declined to comment on questions about its hiring activity or Nebula. It did not respond to questions about its product plans.

Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison has promised a full suite of cloud offerings including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to compete with Amazon Web Services, which he said late last year had replaced SAP and IBM as Oracle’s chief rival. As far as I can tell, you can’t yet buy an hour of compute from Oracle, but that’s coming, if Ellison and Magnusson have anything to say about it. And they do.

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