Oracle's Ellison offers $US1M Challenge

"If the performance doesn't triple, we will give you a million bucks," Ellison said.

He took the audience through a series of demonstrations, charting the capabilities of the new 9i Application Server and the upcoming 9i Database Server. While the database product will not arrive until March of 2001, Ellison claimed that the 9i Application Server in tandem with the 8i Database Server could increase the speed of any Web site by at least threefold. He feels so safe with that claim that he vowed to put up a cool million to anyone whose site speed fails to triple.

Ellison repeatedly attacked rivals IBM and Microsoft for providing technology both too slow and too prone to failure.

In the past, Oracle provided a variety of applications sold separately and requiring individual installation processes. Now, however, Ellison said his company will sell only two product lines: the 9i series of servers with all of the applications already on them.

"All of our customers will have two products. Count them -- two products," he said. "This allows you to sell much more reliable systems."

Oracle seeks to remove some of the uncertainty and headaches associated with back-end technology by removing choices from the customer, he said.

"Choice for some things is great," Ellison said.

But apparently not when it comes to hardware in his view. He urged 9i customers to buy servers from Oracle partners who have configurations that are certified by his company. That includes Compaq Computer, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. While varying configurations remain available, Ellison said that system stability and reliability go up when his company can measure performance on systems with the same configurations.

"We would like every one of our customers to run the identical configuration," he said. "We can do much more thorough testing."

He pointed to a number of features the 9i products provide, including the ability for a Web site to host 1 million simultaneous users and process 1 million page views per second. The previous 8i product handled about 50 page views per second. Ellison, thus, seemed pleased with the dramatic improvement in load-handling ability.

Additionally, the Database Server will have a flashback feature that lets users track past data through an extensive time period.

"We have to handle not only technology failures," Ellison said. "We have to handle human error."

The data-restoration feature allows a user to go back in time and track information that may have been lost by accident or because it did not seem necessary at the moment. If the information later seems crucial, the user can get the database to retrieve past statistics.

He also said the new, simplified approach to back-end systems will guarantee that Internet sites run continuously even when a number of the driving technologies temporarily fail.

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Ashlee Vance

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