Oracle Trots Down the Server Appliance Path Again

LAS VEGAS --Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle, is launching another push for hisbeloved server appliance.

Ellison’sOracle and Compaq are collaborating on several server appliances. The firstfruits of the union will be an appliance based on the Oracle9i ApplicationServer running on a Compaq ProLiant DL360 two-processor server. The appliancesare expected to be ready to ship in December.

Ellison’sannouncement is the second time the Oracle chief used a Comdex keynote tolaunch a server appliance. In 1998, Ellison unveiled plans for a databaseserver appliance running Oracle8i. Those Intel-architecture appliances beganshipping about 18 months later in April of this year. The first hardwarepartner was Hewlett-Packard, with Fujitsu-Siemens, Compaq, and Dell following.

This timethe announcement was made much further along in the process. At Comdex, Compaqchairman and CEO Michael Capellas joined Ellison onstage to tout thepartnership. Sun Microsystems and HP will offer the new Oracle applianceslater. In November 1998, Ellison didn’t have hardware partners lined up for theappliance.

Capellashad to tread gently given Compaq’s close working relationship with Microsoft.Ellison, however, was not shy. He reiterated his long-standing argumentsagainst the Windows enterprise model in making his pitch for the newappliances.

“It dawnedon me in 1995 that [the computer industry] was making a fundamental mistake inmaking the PC more powerful and complex, when we needed to make it simpler. Wewere totally thinking about it in the wrong way,” Ellison said.

For yearsapplications have been migrating off desktops and onto servers for good reason,Ellison said. “Every child should be unique, but not every computer. …Everything is custom-made, custom-configured, and custom-managed. This can’t beright, this can’t be reliable, this can’t be cost-effective,” he said.

Ellisondecried the idea of each computer having its own unique configuration as badfor the industry, leading to extensive troubleshooting and reliability problems.

“The newmodel of computing is the appliance,” Ellison declared. He defined “appliance”as preconfigured, pretested, and preloaded hardware and software.

He made thepoint that assembly-line uniformity is “the way the rest of the world works,except for the computer industry.”

Theappliance will use what Ellison termed an “anonymous” operating system. “Theuser never sees the operating system,” he said.

In caseanyone in the IT world was wondering, Ellison confirmed that the new appliancewill not run on Windows 2000.

Microsoftheld up its end of the fight in Las Vegas, handing out mugs poking fun atOracle and claiming Oracle’s software is grossly overpriced.

Oracle Corp.,
Compaq Computer Corp., Houston,

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