Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
12/22/2008
02:10 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Larry Ellison: Oracle DB Machine 'Most Successful Intro Ever'

Oracle last week gave some dazzling performance details from two customers evaluating its new hardware/software Database Machine, and CEO Larry Ellison called it the most successful Oracle product intro ever in terms of "pipeline growth and pipeline size." Will Oracle be able to convince budget-strapped CIOs to convert that pipeline interest into actual purchases?

Oracle last week gave some dazzling performance details from two customers evaluating its new hardware/software Database Machine, and CEO Larry Ellison called it the most successful Oracle product intro ever in terms of "pipeline growth and pipeline size." Will Oracle be able to convince budget-strapped CIOs to convert that pipeline interest into actual purchases?Last week, reporting on Oracle's quarterly financials, my colleague Charlie Babcock noted that Ellison disclosed the first sale of the brand-new Database Machine, which is a joint effort of Oracle and Hewlett-Packard. In a subsequent conference call with analysts, Ellison made the comments about "the most successful introduction" but then tempered that a bit by saying, "We think it's going to be a while before we're going to be able to convert this pipeline -- we've got a number of demonstration machines both from Oracle and HP being put in the hands of customers. That business looks very promising and should help us drive growth over the next 18 months."

Oracle president Charles Phillips then gave the analysts more detail about customer experiences with the Database Machine. While Phillips's comments did not include any details about pricing or technical requirements for the new system, the raw performance numbers he gave were impressive.

"At the Chicago Merc Exchange, they had a query that was taking four minutes. They tested it [on the Database Machine] and ran it in 10 seconds -- they weren't even aware that the query got completed," Phillips said.

"MobileTel is evaluating our Database Machine on 65 billion records of data. Their initial query performance is 10X to 72X faster than their current systems." (For an overview of the new Oracle product, see Charlie Babcock's news analysis and Roger Smith's broader overview.)

Clearly this is not the ideal time for many companies to be considering significant new investments in IT infrastructure, and in the specific case of the Database Machine CIOs also will be weighing its undeniable potential against its lack of demonstrated success in production systems. But the introduction of the new system, and the early pipeline success noted by Ellison, are important for two reasons: first, the unprecedented joint effort with HP by one of the world's largest and most-powerful software companies to extend its business model in an entirely new direction is a stroke of innovative thinking that should spur other IT vendors to reassess how and why they do what they do, and how some new approaches might provide incremental new value to customers and the vendors themselves.

Second, the sheer scope of the joint offering from HP and Oracle will force other players in the data warehousing market to accelerate their plans as well, which will result in greater benefits to CIOs in these budget-conscious times.

For Oracle, it's yet another sign of the company's aggressive buildout into just about every segment of the enterprise software space: just moments before Ellison made the "most successful" comment about the Database Machine, he pointedly noted that in recent months Oracle has begun thumping Salesforce in head-to-head competition for cloud deals.

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