June was a busy month for Oracle. On the heels of an anemic earnings report, the company announced alliances with a number of former rivals, including Microsoft and Salesforce. Those partnerships could position Oracle as more of a presence in the business-cloud market; for example, the Microsoft deal will make Oracle’s enterprise software products available via Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. July could be nearly as busy for Oracle. Its Oracle Database 12c, which just reached general availability, isn’t just the latest iteration of a cornerstone product: it’s the next step in Oracle’s attempt to reposition itself as a premier cloud vendor. Oracle Database 12c includes a multitenant architecture (dubbed “Oracle Multitenant”) that makes each database appear as a standard Oracle Database to applications; Oracle claims this will allow existing applications to run on the platform without the need for tweaks or code changes. Multitenant support also preps third-party applications running on Oracle Database for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployment. In addition, Oracle claims the multitenant nature of the platform gives IT administrators more flexibility with regard to resource utilization, upgrades, backup, provisioning, and recovery. New Automatic Data Optimization features supposedly streamline system performance; administrators can set server-managed policies that automatically compress and tier various kinds of data. If that wasn’t enough, Oracle is also positioning its latest database as a Big Data tool, with features such as SQL Pattern Matching—which supposedly boosts in-database MapReduce capabilities, making unstructured data easier to discover—and a set of in-database predictive algorithms. Yet despite all these new features, Oracle is emphasizing the database’s cloud compatibility most of all. There are good reasons for this: from IBM to SAP and Amazon, all of Oracle’s business rivals are jockeying to position their own products as the cutting edge of the cloud. For the past year, Oracle has been pushing out new rounds of cloud products—including a public cloud with a variety of database and developer tools—even as it pursues its legacy strategy of selling integrated hardware-and-software stacks. Given how much those legacy platforms contribute to Oracle’s bottom line, it’s unlikely that the company will abandon them entirely for the cloud, at least anytime soon. That being said, Oracle’s hardware division has been suffering for the past few quarters, revenue-wise; any plan that emphasizes the sales of software and cloud services, which generally have better margins, is probably a welcome one for the company’s investors. Database 12c seems like a step in that cloudier direction.   Image: Sashkin/Shutterstock.com