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Oracle acquires software maker Eloqua to enhance its cloud-computing services

oracle_logoOracle announced that it is buying marketing automation software developer Eloqua Inc for about $810 million to boost its cloud-computing capability.

Eloqua Inc develops software that aids its customers in predicting and growing revenue by analyzing data relevant to marketing and sales initiatives. The company supports customers like AON Plc, Automatic Data Processing Inc, Dow Jones, Polycom Inc, and National Instruments Corp.

Oracle has been late to embrace cloud computing technology. The move to buy Eloqua puts it in a more favorable position to market its services as a one-stop shop for databases, operating systems, computer programs, as well as infrastructure on the Internet.

“The acquisition of Eloqua will add a leading market automation solution to Oracle’s strong salesforce automation products and the recently acquired RightNow call center automation solution,”  noted Nomura Equity Research analysts in their research statement.

Oracle’s $1.5 billion acquisition of RightNow Technologies last year sparked a flurry of similar acquisitions by other tech companies hoping to boost their own cloud computing services.  IBM Inc bought Kenexa, while SAP AG acquired SuccessFactors.

Traditionally offering installed software, Oracle also purchased Taleo, another cloud-based HR software company.

“We would expect Oracle to continue to make acquisitions in this space, to bolster its Fusion Applications suite and respond to competitive pressure in the applications market from SAP and Salesforce.co,” research firm Nomura added.

The total price Oracle offered for Eloqua was $871 million. The latter has about 34.5 million shares as of October 31.

Cloud computing refers to an umbrella of services delivered via the internet from remote servers. It has  become a favorite technology for many companies as it offers more cost-effective services, faster implementation, and lower maintenance costs.

In 2008, Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison thought cloud computing was a “complete gibberish”. He believed the technology would not flourish, comparing the computer industry to a fashion world.

The sentiment did not last long though as Oracle has since then embraced it by introducing its own products over the web and acquiring a few firms that helps it to sell internet-based software as its business customers welcome web services offered by Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc, and Salesforce.com Inc.

“Although Oracle already had strong marketing functionality, this gives it a cloud offering to deliver and an additional base of midmarket customers providing a recurring license maintenance stream,” said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst from Nucleus Research.

“Eloqua’s leading marketing automation cloud will become the centerpiece of the Oracle Marketing Cloud,” Executive Vice President of Oracle Development Thomas Kurian said.

Eloqua’s board approved the offer from Oracle unanimously. The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2013.

The uncertainty of the looming “fiscal cliff” that troubles other tech companies seems to be of no effect to Oracle as it forecasts strong software sales growth next year.

source: reuters