Ellison: throw out your databases

Larry Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of leading database company Oracle, urged companies to throw out their myriad databases Tuesday, saying that the fragmentation of customer information is the number-one problem facing application systems.

The comment, made at the company's AppsWorld conference in London, underscores Oracle's increasing focus on its applications business.

"We are in the business of selling databases and you all have bought too many of them," Ellison told the crowd of 8,500 attendees.

Ellison said that up until recently, technology companies have focused on automating departments rather than automating businesses, which has led to a serious fragmentation of information.

"A company's most precious resource is its customer information -- and we are paying a fortune not to get that information," Ellison said.

He noted that many companies' customer data is located in numerous databases which are expensive to maintain and yet don't offer easy access to information.

Ready access to customer data is what Oracle is trying to deliver with its E-Business Suite, Ellison said, as he marked a turn away from heavy-handed database sales to a focus on integration.

"We think we are delivering the first modern information systems that deliver information, not technology," Ellison said.

While touting the future of the company's applications business, Ellison briefly addressed Oracle's US$6.3 billion unsolicited bid for rival PeopleSoft Inc., which could potentially broaden its offerings in the area.

Ellison said that he believed that the deal would be good for customers, and promised that Oracle would not kill off any PeopleSoft product lines, and would in fact extend support for PeopleSoft 7 and PeopleSoft 8.

He expressed frustration, however, at the PeopleSoft board's rejection of the offer, saying that the company belonged to the shareholders and not the board.

When asked if he would sweeten the deal further, Ellison replied: "never say never."

AppsWorld London runs through Thursday.

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