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Oracle's Ellison bets on Lindows
Shyamal Majumdar in San Diego | January 23, 2003 12:27 IST
Larry Ellison, the charismatic chairman and CEO of Oracle Corporation, the $11 billion world leader in databases and enterprise software, has a dream.
And the open software on which he is banking heavily to make his dream a reality is called Lindows.
Speaking at the Oracle Appsworld here, the 58-year old Ellison, dressed in his customary light grey suit and black rollneck, said he hoped that Oracle would soon be able to run its desktop applications on Lindows, a software that combines Linux and Windows without violating any trademark or copyright. The Lindows concept was dreamed up by MP3.com entrepreneur Michael Robertson.
The shrewd Ellison was however quick to sense the skepticism among the audience about the concept to make a cheap open software that runs both Linux and Windows code, but that looks and runs like Windows.
"Lindows may not succeed, but it's at least possible. Even if Lindows comes close to success, the product could beget the massive transition that Microsoft perpetually fears," Ellison said. Quite clearly, the master salesman once again managed to take a jibe at his favourite whipping boy - Microsoft.
During his riveting one-hour speech at the jam packed convention centre, the Oracle supremo, who has been more in the news for his attempt to buy a Mig jet fighter or building a $40 million house modeled on a medieval Japanese village, came across as a great visionary who can turn the industry on its head with his latest idea.
According to Ellison, companies can actually spend less and know more about the information that allows them to make timely business decisions.
"If you want better information, if you want a single global e-mail system, if you want a single global customer database, the only thing required is your willingness to spend less," Ellison said, adding the main problem the industry faces now is the huge data fragmentation.
"Our answer is to move everything to the database, a single global database," he said.
According to him, the industry is still in the hobby phase, where customers buy parts and then puts their systems together, like at the beginning of the car industry. "Going forward, a company like Oracle should be able to give you the whole car, rather than leaving the client to build the vehicle themselves," he said.
Giving a measure of the problem, Ellison said one of its customers had 97 separate human resource databases. This was absurd not only from the operational point of view but also from the cost aspect. It took a while for Oracle to convince the customer to move to a single database.
"I don't know why we had to put in so much effort to convince the venerable gentlemen that one is actually smaller than 97," Ellison said referring to the huge mindset problem that software customers often had.
Driving his point home, Ellison said speciality vendors (companies with just one product set) had no option but to die. Suites of products such as Oracle's that are integrated, low price and high volume would always win. Ellison said Oracle's competitors were all promising a 360 degree view of CRM. In reality, they were all offering a 10 degree view.
Such a relationship could only flourish if a customer was willing to pay through his nose.