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Exclusive Oracle is cooking up a strategy around the cloud, something chief executive Larry Ellison once referred as "idiocy" - albeit the sort of fashionable idiocy he's willing to buy in to.

Sources close to Oracle have told The Register there's a growing pace of activity inside the database maker - at all levels - on the subject of cloud computing.

Senior Oracle executives are understood to be working on a holistic corporate story that encompasses Oracle's assets in databases, applications, and middleware.

At a lower level, people in Oracle's product units are working individually on projects that would make more of Oracle's applications and middleware available for use in cloud computing. It's understood these include putting Oracle's Siebel and PeopleSoft applications into the cloud.

Oracle declined to comment on its work on cloud computing.

The research and work follows the support for Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) in Oracle's database and WebLogic Server, the application server Oracle bought with BEA Systems for $8.5bn. Oracle's database and application server support 32- and 64-bit systems.

The growing pace of activity comes after chief executive Larry Ellison last year professed confusion over cloud computing - and a willingness to exploit this latest trend in IT.

Rightly, Ellison complained about the industry's lack of restraint in using the term "cloud," noting how Gmail and software-as-a-service have been retrospectively branded as cloud services. He also poured scorn on talk that the cloud would kill off packaged software.

Still, Ellison promised, he wouldn't fight the madness.

"We will make cloud computing announcements, because if orange is the new pink, we'll make orange blouses," Ellison told his company's OpenWorld conference last year. "I'm not going go fight this thing...Maybe we'll do an ad. I don't understand what we'll do different in the light of cloud computing other than change the wording on some of our ads."

Oracle already has many of the component pieces to help organizations build clouds, be they public or private. With the Sun Microsystems' acquisition looming, the only question is whether Oracle becomes a cloud host (given Sun's work on building its own cloud) or sticks to providing Oracle products and services that let others build clouds.

In the latter scenario, Oracle could even find a use for the Sun hardware it's been trying to sell.

The news of Oracle's work on cloud comes as the company launched its latest update to its middleware, which was conspicuously free of any reference to cloud computing.

After more than 20-months, Oracle announced - as expected - an integrated stack of middleware comprising SOA, portal, social networking, identity management products, and development tools centered squarely on a new version of the former BEA's WebLogic.

Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g features WebLogic Suite 11g with support for Oracle's grid technology. That includes GridLink for Oracle's Real Application Clusters, enterprise-wide messaging using the WebLogic Server Java Message Service, and ActiveCache to scale web session and persistence state in Oracle's Coherence.

The Oracle SOA Suite 11g is designed to simplify development of event-based applications, features an integrated business rules engine, and has been certified with Oracle E-Business Suite, Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft Enterprise, and JD Edwards Enterprise One.

Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g features re-usable components that can be plugged into portals and there's a pre-built social-networking platform, while Oracle Identity Management 11g has been updated to provide deeper integration with other Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle said. ®

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