27 June 2002 Database software giant Oracle has singled out organisations running open-source software on low-cost computing platforms to arrest slumping sales of its database software.
At the company’s user conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, CEO Larry Ellison made bold claims about the performance of Oracle’s flagship 9i database using the open-source Linux operating system and processors from chip manufacturer Intel (‘Lintel’).
By deploying its database clustering technology on Lintel devices, Oracle claims it can deliver faster database performance and reliability – at a much lower cost – than the “largest” IBM mainframe. This marks a radical change away from Oracle’s traditional selling software based on Unix operating systems from vendors including Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard.
However, Ellison admitted there had been many false dawns for Oracle’s “Real Application Clusters”, which enable organisations to group together multiple database servers with the aim of providing high availability and load balancing.
“Oracle has had clustering for ten years. But it is only now [with 9i version two] that it is useful for real customers for real applications. [Previously] it was great [only] for benchmarks and marketing technology.”
Oracle’s “Unbreakable Linux” marketing claims are based on its joint technology development work with US-based Red Hat, the leading open-source operating system vendor. Ellison says, “We have worked with Red Hat over the last 18 months to develop a variety of kernel changes to Linux.”
On the separate issue of web services — a new approach for delivering software modules as a service over the Internet — Ellison compared the current hype to some of the worst business ideas of the dot-com era.
Ellison said web services had been hyped as an integration panacea, which it is clearly not. “This notion that web services is going to allow you to easily connect to Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft and Oracle just through web services is ludicrous.”
However, he added that Oracle viewed web services as an important new technology. Predictably, he boasted that Oracle was the leading supplier of web services technology.