Oracle's chief executive officer Larry Ellison reiterated his vision of the demise of client/server and the continued dominance of mainframe computing recently in his keynote speech at Comdex in Las Vegas.
Ellison also announced a new product, code-named Raw Iron, which will allow customers to use Oracle8i along with a slimmed-down operating system for managing Internet business applications.
The goal of the initiative is to lower the ownership costs of Oracle's databases in order to compete more effectively with Microsoft's SQL Server.
"The only way we can compete with Microsoft is to deliver a product that has a much lower total cost of ownership," Ellison said.
Oracle will sell its database software installed on preconfigured "server appliances". The servers will run a lightweight and easy-to-manage OS, developed in part by Oracle, that has only the minimum features necessary to run an Oracle database.
Ellison said the operating system will be easier to manage and less costly for corporations to maintain than Windows NT, which he called "enormously expensive and complex".
There was little the Oracle CEO had to say that was new about the demise of client/server computing that he has not said in myriad other speeches in recent months.
In response to hoots from the audience, he offered $US1 million to anyone in the audience who would be willing to benchmark their Microsoft SQL Server-based application.
"The Microsoft contract you signed doesn't allow you to do that, but if you can get them to change the contract [to allow for benchmarking], I'll pay you a million dollars," Ellison said.
Unisys may take Ellison up on that offer: it was displaying a 2GB database, built on SQL Server 7.0, at the show.
After boasting that Oracle8i's online analytical processing capability is 100 times faster than SQL Server's, Ellison offered another million dollars to anyone who could exceed that speed on a SQL Server-based application.
Lightweight operating system
Ellison's explanation for deciding to offer Oracle8i on "naked" hardware, with only a lightweight operating system, was that Intel will soon offer 64-bit computing with its Merced chip and that Microsoft's Windows 2000 will only allow for 32-bit computing.
"You can't take advantage of Merced because NT is only 32-bit, and we won't be able to take advantage of 64-bit computing," Ellison said.
Ellison said Oracle was working with server vendors Dell, Compaq, Sun and others on the implementation, and that the product would be available in March.
When asked about the benefits of running Oracle8i on "naked" hardware compared to running it with a 64-bit operating system such as Solaris, Ellison admitted that there was no real benefit to the Oracle implementation.