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October 13, 1998

ELLISON TELLS SYBASE: BUILD SOFTWARE, DON’T BUY IT

By CBR Staff Writer

Sybase Inc has failed as an all-round applications vendor because it has relied too heavily on bringing technology in from the outside, through acquisitions, rather than building new applications itself, according to Oracle chief Larry Ellison in his keynote speech during the second day of this year’s Gartner Group/Symposium Itxpo 98 in Florida. Ellison, who never misses an opportunity to ruffle his competitors’ feathers, told a packed audience that Sybase started to get into trouble when it began writing checks instead of software. He said: It doesn’t work. You can buy little pieces of software but when you start acquiring your applications rather than building them, it’s the beginning of the end. When asked what he would do if he were in Mitch Kertzman’s (the chairman of Sybase’s board) position, Ellison said: I’d tender my resignation and leave for one of those high tech start ups. He added: I like Mitch very much, we’d make him an offer in a flash. He said the key players in the market were Oracle, Microsoft, with its Sequel Server database and IBM, with DB2. Ellison went on to criticize other database suppliers, notably Baan and Informix for their respective acquisitions of Aurum and Illustra. Baan can’t just take Aurum and glue it into its ERP (enterprise resource planning) software. And it’s the same for Informix and Illustra. They’re using all these different pieces of software that don’t fit very well together and it doesn’t work. He added sarcastically: That’s the one area where me and Bill Gates agree. Ellison later used the question and answer session to reiterate Oracle’s undying commitment to the internet as the future of computing. He likened the new thin client model, where users only need a browser to access their applications held centrally somewhere on the internet, to the days of the mainframe computing. Like mainframes, he said the new model would take applications off the desktop and help make wide area networks run much more efficiently. He urged companies to make the transition to internet computing by the end of this year.

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