Oracle Pres. Predicts Free Products; Focus On Service

There may not be any free lunch, but there could be a free database in your company's future. That is, if what Oracle Corp. president Ray Lane said at a recent Giga Information Group conference comes true. Speaking before a half-full house of a few hundred people at Giga's Enterprise Application Integration conference last month in Orlando, Lane predicted that the new network-based information economy "will change the business you're in." With the zero-latency of the Internet, he said, "You may have a window of 10 minutes to get a customer's business." Lane observed that many industries have yet to fully embrace the Internet. The result, he says, is that "Most CEOs are sitting like deer in the headlights right now. Every industry has an amazon.com. "We still sell databases with a direct sales force," Lane continued. "But over time, I think we'll move more toward the Egghead example, selling databases over the Internet." Retail software discounter Egghead sold its stores and now sells over the Internet, a move that Lane admitted was "extreme." Finally, in response to a question from the audience about the growing popularity of the Linux operating system and free software available on the Internet, the Oracle executive added, "All of our products some day will be given away, and we will become a service company." Now that's extreme.

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