Oracle-Compaq Box to Compete with Ellison Start-Up

The Net appliance collaboration with Compaq Computer Corp. that Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison announced earlier this week at Comdex/Fall 2000 stands to compete squarely against another Ellison-backed venture.

Gina Smith, CEO of the New Internet Computer Co., a San Francisco-based start-up that Ellison launched in May to market a US$199 Internet device dubbed the NIC, indicated yesterday that her company plans to market a Net appliance similar to the one Ellison is working with Compaq to build.

The Oracle/Compaq appliance will be based on the Oracle 9i Application Server and Compaq's ProLiant DL360 ultra-thin two-way server, according to Ellison. In an e-mail exchange with Computerworld yesterday, Smith said that while the current NIC does not have the functionality of the Oracle/Compaq device, a change is in the offing.

"The NIC, which also is Larry's, is not currently capable of playing with Oracle apps, 9i or otherwise," Smith said. "It is essentially a Netscape browser in a box. But I wouldn't be surprised to see us come out soon with something very similar to what the Compaq collaboration is working on. Stay tuned."

Smith attributed that similarity to a determination on Ellison's part to win the Internet computing battle.

"Oracle's goal is to rule this Internet computing business from software to hardware. Without speaking for Oracle, I could tell that there are several ways they will approach this," she said. "They're all over the board."

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