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Oracle Targets Exchange Users

You'd expect database giant Oracle Corp. to offer a migration program for SQL Server database customers, but Exchange customers? Larry Ellison made a play for Microsoft's e-mail server customer base this week during his annual Comdex keynote.

The Oracle chairman and CEO for years has used his Comdex speech as a bully pulpit to blast Microsoft, and this year was no exception. The message this time: E-mail data is becoming too important to risk relying on distributed Microsoft server software.

"Normally you don't think about e-mail as database data. But it holds precious business information. Don't store your e-mails in somebody's system that is very fragile and breakable. Why have hundreds of Exchange servers when you can have one or two Oracle databases?" Ellison said.

On this initiative, Ellison isn't recommending that users scrap all their Microsoft software. "Microsoft is famous for e-mail, and we don't want anyone to stop using Outlook," Ellison said.

Oracle calls its Exchange migration program the Oracle Email Migration Service. The service comes in two parts. In an assessment phase, Oracle consultants estimate the cost savings of migrating from an Exchange back end to Oracle9i Real Application Clusters. An accelerator package provides tools and best practices for the actual move.

Ellison has said organizations need to have 10 or more Exchange servers to really benefit from the program.

It's not the first time Ellison has made a pitch to leverage his flagship database to challenge areas where Microsoft has a strong market presence. A few years ago, with the release of Oracle8i, Ellison recommended that organizations replace their Windows NT file servers with the Internet File System in Oracle8i.

This time, Oracle has already tested the program on its own systems. Oracle claims it saved $24 million by consolidating 97 e-mail systems around the world into one Oracle9i-based system.

Oracle also has a reference customer. Landis ICT Group is in the process of migrating 44 Exchange servers to Oracle9i.

Oracle isn't the only vendor trying to convince Exchange server administrators to consolidate distributed systems on a different back end while retaining an Outlook front end. Microsoft's archrival in e-mail software -- Lotus Development Corp./IBM Corp. has been promoting an iSeries (formerly the AS/400) solution running Lotus Domino for several months.

Meanwhile, Microsoft can't argue that the idea of using a database on the back end of an e-mail system is too farfetched. In the next version of Exchange Server, Microsoft plans to replace the Exchange message store with Yukon technology from Microsoft's SQL Server database development team.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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