If Oracles Last Database Is So Good ...

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-07-02 Print this article Print

Oracle chief Larry Ellison said the code name for Oracle9i is the "last database," which I concluded to mean that Ellison thought the database market was dead.

Oracle chief Larry Ellison said the code name for Oracle9i is the "last database," which I concluded to mean that Ellison thought the database market was dead.

He later clarified his remarks. Its not the "last" database, he said—Oracle9i features the biggest, most radical improvements in database computing since the first relational database. There probably wont be any other improvements in this technology this great, ever. Im glad Ellison hasnt lost his bravado.

At the Oracle9i launch in mid-June, Ellison then went on to hammer Microsoft and IBM, saying these competitors were so far behind that it would take them between five years and "never" to catch up to Oracle9i. He went on to say that IBM and Microsoft may become unimportant in this market. Cheers again, Larry!

Thats when I began to wonder why Oracle is dropping the price of 9i some 30 percent below 8i to bring it more in line with competitors that may not be around in as few as five years. Why would something so great and powerful need a price cut?

Oracle has taken a beating in recent months over its pricing and has admitted losing some ground to its competitors. Note that Oracle has lost ground with its 8i product line, which has basically the same hardware requirements as IBMs DB2.

Now the situation gets a little confusing. Ellison said that the cost of the database is basically nothing when compared with everything involved in setting up and running a database management system. So, again, why does Oracle need to drop the price on technology that is supposedly better, especially considering that 9i theoretically runs on much less expensive hardware, including low-cost Intel boxes?

There are only two possible reasons for such a cut: Ellison wants to accelerate the demise of Microsoft and IBM, or the price cuts are all posturing. I assume that, as much as Ellison wants Microsofts and IBMs software divisions to disappear, this is not a practical notion at this time. Therefore, its all posturing. Too bad: Oracle9i is a killer product. It is the last database—whatever that means.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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