Oracle's Ellison Cuts a Cloud Deal

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If one were to ask Oracle's ( ORCL) billionaire founder Larry Ellison what his best deal of 2012 was, it might have nothing to do with a well publicized Hawaiian Island land grab.

Just days after reporting better than expected earnings that were driven by strong software sales and an improving payoff of a $7.5 billion 2009 acquisition of hardware giant Sun Microsystems, Oracle has returned the M&A table in announcing a $810 million deal for cloud software specialist Eloqua ( ELOQ) that caps off a 18 months of software deals.

Oracle said the deal for Eloqua, which values the software specialist at $23.50 a share and caps an impressive 50% stock run since its early August initial public offering, will help the enterprise software and hardware giant add to its growing set of cloud offerings.

Specifically, Oracle said Thursday's acquisition will help the company grow its so-called Oracle Marketing cloud, in a move to provide sales and marketing businesses with better virtual relationships and analytics.

Eloqua makes software products that help businesses track and analyze revenue in real-time and gives firms the ability to measure the returns on marketing and sales campaigns. Dell ( DELL) and Cisco ( CSCO) are among the company's thousand-plus set of users and Oracle says it expects to greatly expand the platform.

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

Already, Oracle's had a busy 18 months bolstering its cloud services, after being accused of falling behind upstart cloud-CRM giant Salesforce.com ( CRM). Earlier in 2012, Oracle bought cloud HR and training specialist Taleo for $1.9 billion. In October of 2011, the company bought another cloud specialist, RightNow, for $1.9 billion.

While Oracle's cloud deals and its stated multi-year goals in the fast-growing piece of the tech world are in the early innings, the company's recent earnings signal a cloud software transition is already underway at the tech giant.

On Dec. 18, the company reported stronger than expected earnings, driven by 18% gains in new software and cloud revenues and 22% revenue growth in its U.S. operations. Meanwhile, European business grew 12%, rebutting fear an E.U. slowdown would stall growth.

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