Oracle has geared itself up for what could be a bloody battle to take control of the embedded database market, by winning the hearts of ISPs, Web developers and system integrators.
At a strategy briefing in New York last week, the software vendor outlined a package for partners who commit to developing on the freshly unveiled Oracle 8i database. Developers will be granted free licences for Oracle 8i, following the example set by Informix earlier this year. "We've put marketing funds, equal to 2% of partners' revenue, at stake for helping you build the marketplace with our product," said Ray Lane, president and COO of Oracle. "We will research partners who want to (develop applications in key industries). We would like to invest and help build those applications. In the next few years, half Oracle's revenues will come from partner business."
The new database product will be bundled with a free Java-based Internet file system, iFS, which Oracle contends customers will use for storing and searching documents traditionally housed in the Windows file system and Email file system. Oracle claims this will "insulate" users from the need to have complex operating systems like NT in the LAN environment.
"Oracle is still the dominant database on Unix and the new licence revenues leader in 1997," says Arthur Hochberg, principal analyst at Dataquest.
Microsoft intends to challenge that leadership with SQL Server 7.0 expected to be released in November. "8i competes most directly with NT server," claimed Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle. "SQL Server is a very tiny product that almost no-one uses. If Oracle totally wiped out SQL Server our business would not grow very much (as a result)."
Despite Ellison's posturing, analysts are convinced that SQL 7.0 is a great concern to Oracle. "Microsoft SQL server has been a large reason behind it. All database vendors have declared an intention to do more business through third party channels," said Rob Hailstone, chief analyst at Bloor Research.
- See Analysis, page 12.
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