Comdex: Ellison ups the ante

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison issued a second $1 million (£625,000) challenge designed to compare the performance of Microsoft Corp.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison issued a second $1 million (£625,000) challenge designed to compare the performance of Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server 7.0 to attendees of his Fall/Comdex keynote tonight. Last week at Oracle OpenWorld, Ellison offered some early, sketchy details of the first $1 million challenge he posed, calling on Microsoft or any developer to demonstrate SQL Server 7.0 transaction performance rates that are better than the current 100 times difference between Microsoft's platform and Oracle's Version 8 database that Oracle claims exists today.

Ellison yesterday committed to publishing on the Oracle Web site before the end of this week a "very basic query" that will provide the basis for the test. He didn't offer further specifics.

During the course of his keynote, Ellison added a new dare, calling on attendees to attempt to publish to the Web the results of a TPC-D benchmark that measures the data warehousing performance of SQL Server 7.0. Ellison claimed that existing Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 contracts prohibit users from doing so. "If you can get Microsoft to give you permission to run this benchmark, we will pay you $1 million... in cash dollars, U.S. money," Ellison told keynote attendees.

When a keynote attendee suggested Ellison up the reward to $1 billion (£625 million), Ellison quipped, "Go ask [Microsoft CEO] Bill [Gates]."

The new challenge was just the latest of many pot shots that Ellison continues to take at Microsoft and its CEO Gates. Ellison conducted an hour-long press conference prior to taking the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton, where he fired off in rapid succession his views on everything from a possible break-up of Microsoft as a result of the current U.S. Department of Justice antitrust investigation, to Oracle's "Raw Iron" Internet appliances.

Ellison told press conference attendees that if Microsoft were to lose the current federal antitrust case, his suggested "remedy" would be to: "Break Microsoft into two companies, one headed by Gates and the other headed by [Microsoft President Steve] Ballmer." He said both companies should be allowed to carry the full suite of Microsoft operating systems and applications. "Then you'd have real competition," Ellison said.

Ellison spent quite a bit of time, both during the press conference and the keynote eulogising the idea of centralised computing, as opposed to client/server computing. "Centralising complexity" as Ellison referred to his view of Internet computing, will decrease labour costs, while increasing privacy, security and data reliability, he claimed.

"By putting little servers everywhere, we horribly fragment information," Ellison told keynote attendees. "We've lost track of what's going on."

Gates also railed on Microsoft's operating system strategy, claiming that the majority of users will be better served by the Raw Iron -- forthcoming Internet applications designed to run Oracle 8I on top of an embedded microkernel. Oracle announced officially its Raw Iron initiative today at Comdex.

Ellison concluded the keynote with a brief audience question and answer session. "If you want to save money, big is indeed beautiful," Ellison concluded.

Editorial standards