Ellison releases Oracle 9i - the "last database", and believes that IBM and Microsoft will cease to be important components of the marketplace
REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. -- In a presentation that was half keynote address and half stand-up comedy routine, Oracle Corp. Chairman and Founder Larry Ellison launched his company's cornerstone Oracle 9i database here Thursday.
The major features of the new version, Ellison said, are speed, implementation costs and reliability -- so much so, he said, that "this is the last database."
Ellison also announced imminent lower pricing, which has been a major concern of even the most loyal Oracle users.
Considering manpower and hardware issues, Oracle isn't as expensive as its reputation holds, he claimed. "This is essentially a price reduction," Ellison said, without giving details.
The majority of Ellison's speech covered 9i's new clustering feature, which allows databases to be divided over several smaller computers, rather than one big one. But unlike the clustering of chief rivals IBM and Microsoft Corp., the databases clustered with Oracle will continue to run, even if one part of the cluster crashes, he said.
"The single computer strategy is flawed -- we had to find another approach," Ellison said. Even Oracle's own clustering was "largely worthless," he said. "Way less than 1 percent" of customers used it, he said.
Ellison also attacked the clustering claims of his competitors.
"It is utterly useless for anything other than benchmarks," he said.
Ellison moved his audience to laughter with some self-deprecating humor, at one point rolling out a product demonstration showing a Web e-commerce interface including such products as "MiG," "MiG ejection seat" and "parachute." (Ellison, a pilot, has been criticized by residents who live near the San Jose airport for causing noise pollution.)
"We think that IBM and Microsoft will simply cease to be important components of the marketplace," he said at one point. "We think it's five to 10 years to never" before those companies can equal Oracle's technology.
Karl Buttner, president and CEO of 170 Systems Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., has been beta testing 9i and finds it to be faster and more reliable than its predecessors.
"It's exactly what [our customers] are looking for," he said. "It's very sound technologically."
"Oracle is certainly playing from a position of strength," added Geoff Roach, an industry analyst with Aberdeen Group Inc., who attended the launch. "The thing that I think time will tell is how quickly users adopt [clustering]. Introducing a new technology like this is never as easy as users think it is."