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REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. — #Oracle is preparing to intensify its reach for the cloud

In an interview with USA TODAY here, company CEO Mark Hurd laid out its latest battle plan, laying down the gauntlet to rivals #Amazon, #Microsoft, #IBM and #Salesforce. “They can say what they want, but our strategy and momentum are irrefutable — we are the fastest-growing cloud company at scale,” he said when asked about Amazon and recent criticism.

Bravado and fighting words aren’t new to the $183 billion-market cap company, which minted money in the 1990s and 2000s by aggressively inking deals for database services and sales analytics with America’s premier corporations. Then along came cloud computing, a revolutionary technology that offered flexibility, discounts, and a break from multi-year enterprise software contracts — the backbone of Oracle’s revenue machine.

Led by Oracle co-founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison, the company belatedly plunged into cloud computing, ginning up the rhetoric — and sinking money into acquisitions — to fight rivals for the $60.3 billion market in the U.S.

This week at a conference in Las Vegas, it plans to expand the geographic and business reach of its newly acquired NetSuite cloud business, as well as release a human-resources software product. It’ll add new artificial intelligence and chatbot capabilities to its suite of customer experience applications that support commerce, marketing, sales and service professionals.

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