Live from Oracle AppsWorld: Software Hosting and Space Travel

By Deborah Gage Print this article Print

Oracle Chief Marketing Officer Mark Jarvis joined astronaut Buzz Aldrin to look toward the future of IT spending.

SAN DIEGO—In an effort to attract budget-conscious customers, Oracle Corp. plans to guarantee the cost of installing, running and maintaining its e-business applications before customers buy.

Speaking at Oracle AppsWorld here, Oracle Chief Marketing Officer Mark Jarvis said customers can improve performance, avoid glitches and cut IT costs by running Oracle software over the Internet or their own internal networks. He cited statistics from Gartner Inc. claiming that every year, customers spend four times their software costs in maintenance.

Customers have heard similar promises from Oracle before. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who will speak on Tuesday, has pushed hosted software for about four years. But this is the first time Oracle has guaranteed costs.

In an interview, VP Lisa Arthur said Oracle has improved its infrastructure for hosting and plans to standardize its applications on Linux running on Intel servers, which is cheaper than either Unix or Microsoft Windows. Using a single platform also allows Oracle to more easily find and fix bugs and send upgrades to customers.

Arthur claimed Oracle has gained 300 customers for hosting, up from 200 a year ago. These are a tenth of the 5,000 customers claimed by Salesforce.com, whose CRM applications compete with Oracle's and were designed from the beginning to run over the Internet. But Arthur said Oracle offers greater breadth, and is also working to improve the quality of its software and eliminate bugs.

Jarvis was followed by former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who showed a video of his 1969 moonwalk and urged NASA to start sending citizens into space. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. Aldrin received a standing ovation, but the crowd hushed as he told how, after the moonwalk, he lost his way. Unable to find a place for himself in the military, he retired, battled alcoholism, had an affair and divorced.

Seventeen years ago, Aldrin stabilized. His autobiography was turned into a movie starring Cliff Robertson, and his second wife (who made the video) is also his business manager. He writes science fiction, started a company, and plans a conference on Dec. 18—the centennial of the Wright Brothers' first airplane flight—to show why the space shuttle and the space station were poor choices for NASA and why space tourism is a viable market.

Aldrin said NASA must come to terms with the death of a teacher in the Challenger tragedy, just as it dealt with the deaths of Aldrin's three fellow astronauts in the Apollo launch pad fire of 1967. He said there is no substitute for sending journalists, poets and even ordinary citizens into space, because they can explain the images that he saw there in a way that pictures never can.

This article was originally published on 2003-01-21
Senior Writer
Based in Silicon Valley, Debbie was a founding member of Ziff Davis Media's Sm@rt Partner, where she developed investigative projects and wrote a column on start-ups. She has covered the high-tech industry since 1994 and has also worked for Minnesota Public Radio, covering state politics. She has written freelance op-ed pieces on public education for the San Jose Mercury News, and has also won several national awards for her work co-producing a documentary. She has a B.A. from Minnesota State University.

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