Ellison reignites DB wars

Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison has lashed out at his two biggest database rivals, IBM and Microsoft, adding cost to the standing list of claims that Oracle is more secure, more reliable, and faster.

"Despite what everyone says, our software is actually cheaper," Ellison said during his keynote at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco last week.

Microsoft was quick to respond, contesting Ellison's math in his on-stage product pricing comparisons.

"It's ironic to hear Larry claim they are price leaders in anything," said Stan Sorensen, Microsoft's director of enterprise server marketing.

"If you're paying US$140,000 for the (Exchange server) from us, then someone has sold you something you don't need," Sorensen said. IBM was not available for comment.

Ellison's escalation of the database wars overshadowed other news, including the unveiling of 9i AS (Oracle9i Application Server Release 2).

Although even Ellison admits Oracle is "late to the game" in offering its application server solution, Oracle is not about to concede to its competitors a market with a huge growth potential.

Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2004 the application server market will be valued at $11 billion. Most analyst firms value the database market, Oracle's strong suit, at around $10 billion for 2000.

The new release attempted to push all the right hot buttons, such as support for Web services standards such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language), and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration).

9i AS includes so-called "out-of-the-box" wireless applications for e-mail, contacts, and calendar as well as support for voice applications developed on any voice platform. It will also include support for user-defined voice alerts over the phone.

But at least one Oracle partner was skeptical about these features. "Lots of companies have this technology but nobody has figured out how to get paid for it," said Kenneth Newberger, director of corporate sales and marketing at Information Builders in New York.

Unwrapping 9i app server

Oracle 9i Application Server Release 2 offers increased support for these technologies.

-- Web services protocols SOAP, WSDL, UDDI in Jdeveloper tools.

-- Real-time clustering.

-- Dynamic caching of Web pages.

-- Wireless with multichannel support for developers.

-- Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino e-mail.

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