Oracle on Wednesday said it would acquire BigMachines, a Deerfield, Ill.-based cloud computing firm specializing in sales software.

BigMachines helps business clients automate sales orders, so, for instance, sales people can adjust prices and deals from a variety of different connected devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The move could be an attempt to catch up to competitors such as Salesforce, according to one analyst.

In the past few years, software vendors such as Oracle, SAP, IBM and Salesforce have been aggressively acquiring smaller vendors that deliver software as a service, charging ongoing fees, Forrester analyst Liz Herbert wrote in an e-mail. These smaller software providers often sell solutions to specific problems — acquiring them and integrating them into larger offerings could help reduce complexity.

The acquisition of this kind of sales technology — called “configure, price, quote” or CPQ — could be a direct challenge to Salesforce, which has been eroding the customer base for Oracle’s customer relationship management software called Siebel, Herbert wrote. BigMachines software is currently also deployed through Salesforce. “This could also create pressure on to buy or build deeper CPQ functionality itself.”

It also reflects Oracle’s growing emphasis on cloud computing, BigMachines co-founder and former chief executive Godard Abel said in an e-mail. “After dismissing the cloud as ‘water vapor’ a few years ago, Larry Ellison and Oracle seem to have realized they are behind on the cloud and that it is important to large enterprises. Acquisitions are the best way for Oracle to catch up.”

In the past two years, Oracle has acquired three other cloud companies — Eloqua offering marketing software, RightNow with a customer service offering, and talent recruiting software Taleo.