Larry Ellison this week panned the traditional client/server architecture and admitted that he and the rest of the industry made a "colossal" mistake distributing data across multiple systems.
The Oracle chief suggested a move back to a centralised environment during his keynote at the Oracle Applications User Group conference in San Diego, admitting that he could not immediately identify how many people worked at Oracle because that information is distributed across multiple databases.
He said: "Oracle has 70 separate human resource databases across the globe all of which have to be backed up. It costs me a fortune to divide up this information into little bits and now we are trying to get ourselves out of a fix. We've taken complexity and put it on users' and consumers' desktops. This fragmentation is killing us [the business world] because we can't know what's going on in our business."
Ellison believes the success of data warehousing is because it is used to mop up all the information that has been splattered across an organisation.
Oracle itself is returning to centralised computing and is axing its numerous data centres scattered around the world. Instead it will run just two, one as the main centre and the other as backup. This will manage the company's entire global IT infrastructure for its staff and customers.
"We will have one estore for all order capture, one accounting system, one inventory system - one database on one server. Users will be able to access the applications via Oracle's private Internet or the World Wide Web through a universal browser," he explained.
But rather than returning to the traditional mainframe world Ellison believes the crucial difference is the Internet because it is easier to use. Businesses will be successful if they can create an IT environment that mimics the Internet. For example, sales reporting applications should be as easy to use as ordering books from Amazon.com, he continued.
Using the Internet compared to client/server will cut IT costs dramatically, explained Ellison, as he took this as an opportunity to take a swipe at Microsoft.
He said: "Microsoft is large supplier of client/server email - Exchange. But when they started Microsoft Network they had to give away email for nothing like Yahoo and Lycos. So people said, 'Just give away Exchange.' What's the big deal?"
"Exchange is so expensive to run, it's so complicated to mail out all the client software and to manage all of these little servers that Microsoft said, 'Exchange is fine to sell to you guys but we would never dream of running it ourselves, it's too expensive. We're down to our last $15bn in cash.' So they bought Hotmail which is accessible through a browser and runs today on a very carefully camouflaged stack of Sun machines running Solaris at Microsoft," he continued.
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