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Oracle Raw Iron plan shuts NT out of the enterprise

Fast, commodity Oracle Intel boxes to tempt PC manufacturers away from Microsoft

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison yesterday moved to short Windows NT out of the equation with the announcement of 'Raw Iron,' a project designed to run Oracle 8i directly on the hardware without the intervention of anything more than a kernel. Raw Iron is to ship by next March, and although he indicated over the weekend (Earlier Story) that he was talking to Sun, HP, Compaq and Dell about hardware, at yesterday's announcement he tilted decisively towards Intel for the server platform, pointing out that Solaris was 64-bit, and therefore probably fast enough. So his target with Raw Iron is clearly NT, and as he's aiming for both 64-bit and 32-bit implementations on Intel, it seems inevitable that Oracle will be moving heaven and earth to get the system fully 64-bit on Merced ahead of Microsoft's version of NT/Windows 2000 with 64-bit aspects. The route Oracle is taking also seems likely to have greater attractions for PC manufacturers than Ellison's earlier NC proposals. This time around he's offering them the ability to ship their customers screamingly-fast Oracle 8I boxes, and has upped the ante by challenging Microsoft's SQL team to come up with a system that can even run an OLAP query 100 times slower than Oracle. The PC companies want to get their machines up into the heart of the enterprise, enterprise customers want to buy Oracle systems, QED a simple, fast Oracle database box is going to be attractive to both OEMs and their customers. And licensing may turn out to be Oracle's secret weapon, if Ellison's smart. If Raw Iron works as specced customers will get a faster system that at the very least cuts the NT licence fee out of the equation, and at the client end Oracle can cause problems for Microsoft if it goes for lower client access licence fees, together with concurrent licensing. Customers still get the comfort factor of being able to run with Windows client systems if they like (although obviously they could use NCs or thin clients as well), but they're also being offered the possibility of at least reducing NT's role in their organisation's plans. It's also worth noting something that Oracle isn't shouting about right now. If you've got an application running directly on a big, super-fast box, you've got something you could start to think of as a proprietary system, a mainframe maybe. So they're back… ®

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