How long will it be before businesses are ready to put everything into the cloud? Mark Hurd can’t say for sure, but he promises that, when that time comes, Oracle will be the first company there to offer customers the best in cloud innovation. Today, Oracle is the second-largest cloud vendor, trailing just behind Salesforce.com. Tomorrow, according to Hurd, that won’t be the case.

Reimagining Cloud-Based Operations

“Make no mistake,” he recently told investors after the company’s fourth-quarter and year-end earnings report, “we’re laser-focused on being No. 1 in the cloud.” Will Oracle be a step ahead of the rest come 2015? Try 74 billion steps. Hurd said his company estimated that there is a $74 billion addressable market for its cloud apps, meaning the opportunities are fresh for the picking.

Hurd and his Oracle team are rethinking and reimagining cloud-based operations on many levels, including the enterprise business level, with a key focus in mind: simplicity. According to Hurd’s Twitter feed, that’s the bread and butter of the cloud.

Consolidation Capability

Earlier this year, Hurd told Rob Preston of InformationWeek that he had never heard a CEO tell an IT department that their budget was limitless. Companies have to work within fixed budgets, so finding ways to save money are of utmost importance. For Hurd, that key to that is simplification through consolidation.

The best way to do that is to get rid of the dozens or even hundreds of machines you’re using to manage databases or applications, consolidating all of that information and all of those processes onto one machine. Some Oracle customers are combining the new Database 12c with Exadata to avoid having to back up, patch, and upgrade multiple machines at once. With this multi-tenant cloud approach, everything is localized to boost performance and lower costs considerably.

All Three Layers of the Cloud: Covered

Oracle has the unique advantage of being able to boast about offering products for all three layers of the cloud: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Currently, it’s the only enterprise-tech company investing in such a broad range of products, and the company is particularly proud of its wide offering of SaaS applications.

Not only does Oracle provide customers with the largest selection of SaaS applications, but all of the Fusion cloud applications for ERP, CRM, and HCM have had a makeover. New, simple user interfaces and integrated social networking options are among the most notable improvements. The new interfaces were designed with mobile devices in mind, while Oracle hopes the social networking integration will make it easier for your employees and customers to communicate.

Higher Performance, Lower Price

No matter where a business lies in the size spectrum, Oracle is offering up an expanded line of engineered systems to cater to virtually every level of enterprise. The Exa line, which includes Exadata, Exalogic, and Exalytics, are already well-known staples in the world of cloud computing. Those are high-performance machines designed for massive workloads, but Oracle has added something new to the mix.

The company is introducing a new line of low-cost, engineered systems designed with smaller workloads in mind. The goal here is to build large-scale clouds out of commodity servers, Hurd said during the Q2 earnings call.

A New Database, Optimized for the Cloud

One specific product that deserves a mention is the new Oracle Database 12c. The system plays a large part in those consolidation capabilities mentioned earlier thanks to its multi-tenant option. It also includes new M6 in-memory technology with 32 terabytes of main memory, which has generated a lot of interest.

This new technology will make it easier for customers to manage their database environments while also improving data warehousing performance. Since everything is stored in-memory, you won’t need to change a single line of code.

Applications in the Clouds

Oracle is moving forward with one thing in mind: heading to the cloud. Every application, from sales automation to ERP applications, is being formatted for the cloud. Expect to see Oracle taking huge strides this year to convert major customers to the cloud. Why?

It’s all about being No. 1. And that has less to do with earnings reports and more to do with connecting with their customers in interesting, innovative ways. Mark Hurd and his crew have a clear idea of where the cloud is headed, so you can trust them to take your company into the future.