Oracle's Ellison de-emphasises role of NCs

Almost more surprisingly than his sudden soft-pedaling of the network computer concept, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison this week said the company is working with Intel to develop a database-specific server for rapid deployment of Oracle8 database. Speaking at a conference in San Francisco, Ellison detailed his concept of pre-configured, plug-in servers that will run Oracle8. 'We are working with Intel to create appliance servers,' Ellison said, adding that these servers will be available by June. Trouble is, Intel has denied the plan.

Almost more surprisingly than his sudden soft-pedaling of the network computer concept, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison this week said the company is working with Intel to develop a database-specific server for rapid deployment of Oracle8 databases.

But Intel denied the plan.

Speaking at a conference in San Francisco, Ellison detailed his concept of pre-configured, plug-in servers that will run Oracle8.

"We are working with Intel to create appliance servers," Ellison said, adding that these servers will be available by June.

But an Intel representative denied the existence of any planned appliance servers, saying only that Intel has been working with Oracle to optimise databases for use on 32-bit and 64-bit Intel processors.

Ellison said that this new server appliance, which he referred to as the Oracle8 Server, would be based on Intel architecture and would compare favorably in terms of setup to a "Cisco router ... just plug it in to the network and it works."

"All this server does is run Oracle8," Ellison said. "It will be a pre-configured box with dramatically lower total cost of ownership."

Much of the complexity found in servers and desktops comes from the various ways a computer can be configured with memory, storage, processor, and other devices, Ellison said. Servers as appliances will all essentially be the same, with a number of different models.

One analyst doubted that Ellison was proposing anything groundbreaking or particularly effective with the Oracle8 Server.

"It definitely won't make life easier, because there's no significant advantages other than [that] you don't have to go through the installation process," said Richard Finkelstein, president of Performance Computing, a Chicago consultancy. Issues such as administration and tuning would remain, he added.

Ellison, who has spent the past few years spreading his NC concept and trashing the traditional PC client, surprised the audience last week by de-emphasing the "NC everywhere" idea. He even pointed out that companies might want to keep their PCs, especially for use with multimedia applications and downloads from the Web. Such a change in tune could be in reaction to recent criticism that Oracle's product strategy is not focused sharply enough on the company's core products.

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