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Comdex coverage by CNN and

Oracle CEO brings out Raw Iron

November 17, 1998
Web posted at: 2:00 PM EST

by Katherine Bull



LAS VEGAS, Nevada (IDG) -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reiterated his vision about the demise of client/server and the dominance of mainframe-like computing Monday in his keynote speech here at Comdex.

As expected, Ellison also announced a new product, code-named Raw Iron, that would allow users to run Oracle's newest database, Oracle 8i, without an operating system on 64-bit hardware platforms.

During his hour-long speech, Ellison took potshots at Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, ridiculing the Microsoft chief's vision of a pervasive environment of Windows 2000 servers.

"You can't fragment your database across many locations," Ellison said. "It's a bad idea to put small servers everywhere."

There was little new the Oracle CEO had to say about the demise of client/server computing that he hasn't said in myriad speeches in recent months.

"Corporate networks will evolve away from client/server. We need to get applications off the desktop and onto corporate megaservers. You shouldn't have to put little servers everywhere; you need to put your application on fewer, larger servers," he said.
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Ellison displayed database benchmarking statistics that did not include Microsoft's SQL Server database product. To hoots from the audience, he offered $1 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.

After boasting that Oracle 8i's online analytical processing capability is 100 times faster than SQL Server's, Ellison offered another million dollars if anyone could exceed that speed on a SQL Server-based application.

Ellison's explanation for deciding to offer Oracle 8i on naked hardware, without the need for an 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 Oracle was working with Dell, Compaq, Sun, and others on the implementation, and that the product would be available in March of next year.

In answer to a question from the audience about the benefits of running Oracle 8i on naked hardware vs. running it with a 64-bit operating system such as Sun Solaris, Ellison admitted that there were no real benefit to the Oracle implementation.

"I doubt it will run as fast as Solaris," he said.

Another audience member asked Ellison what he thought the Department of Justice should do to Gates.

"I hope Bill gets what he asked for: the chance to innovate," he replied, prompting laughter from the audience.

Ellison criticized Microsoft for its strategies, which the U.S. government and a group of U.S. states allege are anti-competitive, and he said Microsoft's hardball tactics are evidence that the company was scared the Internet would weaken its dominant position.

"The real interesting question is, 'Why would Microsoft repeatedly, knowingly break the law so many times?'" he said. "These are smart guys. They knew the Internet posed a threat to their existing monopoly, so they were delaying the inevitable," Ellison said.

Katherine Bull is InfoWorld's news editor. Rob Guth, correspondent in the Tokyo bureau of the IDG News Service, contributed to this article.

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