Oracle courts Dell, Compaq, HP for Microsoft challenge

New 'Raw Iron' database to run on hardware with minimal (Microsoftless) OS

Oracle is negotiating with Sun and a range of PC manufacturers to produce thin server appliances which use the company's 'Raw Iron' implementation of Oracle8, a 'no operating system' version of the database which Oracle intends to ship in Q1 99. Over the weekend Oracle boss Larry Ellison invited reporters into his beautiful home and pre-empted his Raw Iron announcement, which is expected this evening, US Pacific Time. He says he's pitching Raw Iron at Sun, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, which effectively means it will run on at least Sparc and Intel architectures, and which suggests that Oracle may be in-deep with Intel on the subject. A couple of weeks ago Intel announced a thin server appliance based on a 486 processor and VXWorks embedded OS (See story). Raw Iron will clearly be attractive to Sun, Oracle's co-conspirator in the anti-Microsoft camp, but if Ellison really is on the brink of turning the PC big three then Microsoft could be in serious trouble. HP is pursuing its own Java/embedded OS/thin appliance strategy in the curious and slightly contradictory company of both Microsoft and Sun, but there's a logic to its getting together with Oracle in the thin server arena as well. Compaq and Dell entering the fray, however, would be big news. It seems likely that Oracle has been co-operating with Intel in some measure on thin server appliance reference designs, extending the work they've done together on NCs. Getting a couple of the top PC OEMs to go with appliance servers would therefore mean Oracle was finally achieving breakthrough. It may also put Intel in the position of being able to 'promote' A N Other OS into the mainstream, and to put several over on its old Wintel buddy, Microsoft. ®

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