In 17 years at Oracle Ken Jacobs has witnessed Oracle's emergence and rise to dominance as a major database vendor. Jacobs, now vice president of data server marketing for Oracle's Data Server Division, is in charge of marketing Oracle's server products. IDG's Paul Krill recently sat down with Jacobs to discuss his views on the database industry and Microsoft's role in the database marketIDG: Are you satisfied with the sales of Oracle8?
Jacobs: Absolutely. In the last quarter of our fiscal year, which ended in May, 92 per cent of our sales were Oracle8. Database growth in the United States is 25 per cent, which I think is a remarkable achievement and a good reflection of the health of the database industry.
Which does Oracle see as a larger market these days, data warehousing or database-driven Web sites?
I think those are, by general consensus, the two fastest growing markets. The data-warehouse market is probably the largest market, but the opportunities in the Web are very, very strong [and] very significant.
Oracle8.1, due later this year, emphasises Java. Is Java some-thing users really want, or is it just the feature of the day?
Well, Project Emerald [Oracle8.1], as you know, does introduce the possibility of running Java in the database server. We think that's a very attractive way of writing applications, because you can use the same language on the client, in the middle tier, and in the database server, and use the same application, employing it wherever it makes the most sense.
What would have to happen before Oracle would release a version of its database for the Linux OS?
The main issue here is that the operating system is really not the relevant component of the tech- nology. You can really think of an operating system as a device driver. An appropriate place to integrate your applications architecture is around a database. So it's not out of the question that Oracle could release a version of its product on operating systems that haven't even been heard of yet or are never mentioned, for that matter. Whether we ever release it on Linux is going to depend largely on customer demand.
How does Oracle view Microsoft?
Microsoft is our most serious competitor. They've got a great amount of resources, they've got great ambition, and a mediocre product. We think they're three to five years behind technologically. We don't think they have proven technology for enterprise-class applications. Oracle's got 10 years of experience. I think Microsoft is the one that has to prove itself, not Oracle. We're moving beyond enterprise database to the fifth generation as they're trying to move on from client/server into enterprise-capable.
What is the fifth generation?
The fifth generation of database moves beyond the mere requirements of OLTP [online transaction processing] and data warehousing at the high end into making the database a data-centric application platform.