Oracle is taking its newfound cloud rivalry with Salesforce.com to the next level with the acquisition of customer service SaaS specialist and Talkin' Cloud Stock Index member RightNow Technologies for $43 a share, or about $1.5 billion. Oracle hopes to use RightNow's expertise to build out its new Oracle Public Cloud suite once the deal closes, in late 2011 or early 2012.

In a prepared statement, RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte explained the benefits of the acquisition:
"RightNow’s products add leading customer experience capabilities that help empower companies to interact with and provide a consistent experience to customers across channels. We look forward to combining our complementary capabilities along with maintaining and expanding our presence in Bozeman, Montana in order to better service our customers."

And in an open letter to RightNow partners and 2,000 some-odd customers, Executive VP of Oracle Development Thomas Kurian elaborated that until the deal's closing, the two companies will continue doing business as usual. As it stands currently, RightNow's board of directors has unanimously approved the deal, but it's still pending a stockholder vote.

I strongly suspect we'll know more specific details of the acquisition when that deal closes -- Oracle's not being especially clear as to the fate of RightNow's executive team or employees. But what we do know is Oracle sees RightNow as adding the customer service layer to its "sales force automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java" Oracle Public Cloud suite.

That's where the Salesforce.com connection comes in. TalkinCloud has talked before about Oracle Public Cloud's obvious Salesforce envy, with Oracle going so far as to allegedly bounce Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff from the conference where the cloud suite was announced at the last minute.

Salesforce built cloud CRM, so Oracle built cloud CRM. Salesforce built an application platform, so Oracle built an application platform. Salesforce acquired Radian6 and Assistly to bolster its Service Cloud customer service offering, and so Oracle is snapping up RightNow. Of course, I think Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would disagree with this characterization, but it's no secret that Ellison and Benioff aren't exactly the best of friends right now.

Needless to say, TalkinCloud will continue to watch the Oracle/RightNow deal as it nears completion, so keep watching for updates.