SAN MATEO (04/10/2000) - Once again making the claim that today's computing environments provide little more than "distributed complexity," Oracle Corp.'s chairman and CEO Larry Ellison last week divulged launch dates for several promised products, including Oracle's 8i Appliance and the long-awaited Internet File System (IFS), which the company hopes will simplify computing.
"Our underlying strategy can be described in three words: completeness, thus simplicity," Ellison said. "It's a sign of the immaturity of the computer industry that we don't sell systems; we just sell parts."
That approach, Ellison said, leads to a situation in which customers are treated like hobbyists and are left to do more work than should ever be asked of them. Oracle's solution, as Ellison has been evangelizing for several months now, is to get away from a best-of-breed mentality and embrace complete solutions such as the one Oracle is striving to provide.
At the heart of these solutions will be the Oracle 8i Appliance, which is a combination of the company's database, an operating system that has been stripped down, and third party hardware, which the company is now shipping on platforms from Hewlett-Packard and Siemens. Future versions of the 8i appliance should ship on Compaq systems in May and also on systems from Dell, which should have an appliance available in June.
Oracle's efforts to fill out a complete solution will also include the delivery later this month of the Internet File System, a database feature the company promised more than a year ago. The purpose of IFS is to provide a centralized repository for all types of data, which can then be accessed via a series of connectors that are to be provided by Oracle.
Another database feature Oracle has alluded to in the past but had yet to deliver is iCache, which will allow companies to run many versions of Oracle's 8i database on PC servers -- a capability that Ellison said could greatly boost the speed and reliability of Web sites running on 8i. First brought to light last November, Ellison said the feature will be included in the database beginning next month.
Though such features and solutions will be useful, noted Mike Schiff, director of data warehousing strategies at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Va., they do not mean Oracle is abandoning its current business model, which is a good thing for customers who desire best-of-breed solutions.
"Just as there always will be those who want to put together their home stereo system, there's a certain mentality out there that likes to put the best pieces together, so you need to offer both," Schiff said.
Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, Calif., can be reached at www.oracle.com.
Database on demand
The Oracle8i Appliance includes the following elements.
* Intel-based server
* Sun Solaris-based OS kernel
* Oracle 8i Database Standard or Enterprise Edition* Integrated software stack