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Oracle Larry EllisonOracle CEO Larry Ellison on Wednesday finally announced that his company would take the plunge into public cloud computing with Oracle Public Cloud. He made the announcement on stage at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference.

Oracle’s emphasis for several years has been on powerful hardware and software solutions for data centers and enterprise customers. Ellison in the past decried true cloud solutions as “water vapor” and “idiocy.” But the company will soon provide infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to customers that want to deploy Oracle Fusion apps in a public cloud or to develop Java-based applications. Pricing for the new service has not been announced.

Oracle customers will now be able to use the Web to access Oracle applications or use apps they have written via the cloud. Ellison said what differentiates Oracle’s public cloud from competing clouds is that Oracle will let customers move data more freely, a somewhat nebulous claim. Ellison fired a serious shot at competitor Salesforce.com by calling it “the roach motel of clouds,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has been critical of Oracle for some time, saying the company advocates a “false cloud.” Benioff left Oracle to create Salesforce.com, so the two CEOs clash now and again. Oracle even cancelled Benioff’s OpenWorld keynote on Wednesday at the last minute. Perhaps this was because Oracle planned to announce the Public Cloud solution or perhaps because Ellison was fed up of being routinely attacked by Benioff.

But if Wednesday’s Public Cloud announcement is any indication, Oracle is tired of not being in the cloud game and will do whatever it takes to make sure its customers have at least some cloud access.

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