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October 5, 1998

CUSTOMERS AREN’T ALWAYS RIGHT SAYS ELLISON

By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle Corp president and CEO Larry Ellison chose the Mission Critical Computing Conference last week as a platform to ridicule the IT policy of one of its valued customers Burger King. The fast food chain recently announced that it would be installing small NT servers running Microsoft Windows NT and SQL Server 7 at 2,000 of its branches. You shouldn’t have databases in hamburger stands, Ellison told the audience. The message is a familiar one to Ellison followers, and he now calls it internet computing. Ellison blames the enthusiasm for client/server in the 1980s for what he views as a disastrous fragmentation of data across multiple servers and situated in multiple locations. Controlling such systems, he believes, is next to impossible. Ellison claims that up to 70% of current data warehouse installations are not doing anything clever at all, but have been built in response to response to the problems of these fragmented systems. Users can no longer get answers to even simple questions from their systems, let alone the complex relationships favored by sellers of data warehouses, he says. Oracle wants to know how many employees we have. We don’t know. And we’re a database company. Ellison said he was embarrassed to admit that Oracle, a reformed client/server enthusiast, still runs its business on 250 servers distributed around the world. But it is now consolidating that number down to just two groups of linked, clustered servers running the Oracle Parallel Server database. The first parts to have made the news, he says, are the sales and customers service applications. You’d better know your customer, he says. á

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