Is client/server dead? Oracle's Ellison says Net will drive business computing

Summary:NEW YORK -- Client/server computing in corporations is an "evolutionary dead-end," according to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp.Its replacement, Ellison said here in his keynote at the Internet World trade show Wednesday, is Internet computing.

NEW YORK -- Client/server computing in corporations is an "evolutionary dead-end," according to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp.

Its replacement, Ellison said here in his keynote at the Internet World trade show Wednesday, is Internet computing. And Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) is changing its entire business to reflect that sea change, he added.

The client/server model is prohibitively expensive and labor-intensive -- even for big companies, Ellison said. The IT labor shortage has been fueled, in part, by corporations' insatiable need for experts to administer their client/server networks, he said.

"By accident, we've distributed complexity all over the place," Ellison said. "Also, when you move the application off the server and onto the desktop, you really require a high-speed connection for it to work effectively -- and this is killing us."

Why Amazon isn't client/server
To highlight the point, he used a familiar example: Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN).

"[If Amazon] had rolled out book-selling in the client/server model, they'd have had to send out floppies and employ a million tech reps," Ellison said. "It sounds funny, but it's exactly how corporate client/server networks work."

'At Oracle, we believe that all corporate networks will be intranets.'
-- Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO

Internet-based computing offers companies much lower hardware and labor costs, since software upgrades and data backups "are handled by professionals, not end users," he said.

"At Oracle, we believe that all corporate networks will be intranets," he said. "Even small businesses like doctors' offices won't have servers at their locations. If you're a doctor, you'll buy accounting software from Accounting.com," he said.

Corporations will profit on Net
While most of the investment hype has centered on consumer Internet companies such as Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO), Ellison said the big money-makers from the Internet revolution will ultimately be the companies that deliver these business-to-business applications.

Ellison, who occasionally uses his keynotes to take a swipe at rival Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT), did so only indirectly this time.

Running Windows-based client/server systems costs corporations between $10,000 and $25,000 per user per year, while running Internet-based applications only costs them between $1,000 and $2,000 per user per year, he said. "This is why a company like Yahoo! can give away free e-mail."

The Oracle chief also took the opportunity to plug his company's latest database, the 8i.

The product offers the first server and file system ever built into a database, Ellison said.

The database runs on Windows NT, Hewlett Packard's HP-UX Unix, and IBM mainframes, he said.

Topics: Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft, Servers, Windows

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