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Oracle database machine attracting interest but no sales

Ellison not despondent about future prospects.

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There has been lots of interest in Oracle's database machine, said CEO Larry Ellison, although he admiteed that the interest had not yet led to any sales.

The company launched the Oracle Database machine and the Exadata Storage Server (both jointly developed by HP) in September, aiming them at customers looking for high-end data warehousing products.  Both machines combine Oracle's software and ProLiant servers from Oracle partner Hewlett-Packard.

Since then, the buzz has been big, Ellison said during a quarterly earnings conference call. "As measured by pipeline growth and pipeline size, this is the most successful introduction of a new product in Oracle's history," he said before admitting that  "it's going to be a while" before Oracle can convert that buzz into solid sales of the product.

Still, the Exadata business "looks very, very promising and should help us drive growth over the next 18 months," Ellison said.

Ellison said a number of demonstration machines are in the hands of customers, but it was unclear whether any companies are now using the products in production.

"It doesn't surprise me that Oracle didn't name any specific customers on an earnings call, and that's because it was an earnings call, not a product announcement or customer-win or testimonial call," said Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus. "Don't interpret that as any slap against the new HP Oracle appliance, which is a strong product with considerable customer and market interest."

Oracle and HP also released the product in the middle of an economic recession, "so it may take some time to make those pipeline conversions," Kobielus said.

The new products are going up against the likes of Teradata, Netezza and Greenplum, the last of which announced NYSE Euronext as a customer this week.

During his keynote address at OpenWorld, Ellison had tart words for those competing products, but such boasting could be premature, suggested Curt Monash, founder of Monash Research.

"Until there are some major production Exadata success stories, it remains less proven than a number of smaller vendors' alternatives," Monash said via e-mail Friday. "Oracle will find Exadata pioneers anyway, of course, but not necessarily a huge stampede of them."

Greenplum's president, Scott Yara, echoed Monash.

"Oracle and HP are two great companies, but it's not a guarantee for success in the market," Yara said. "They're going to sell Exadata. Whether they're going to be the leader is another question. ... I think Oracle personally has a lot to prove."


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