Larry Ellison: Hardware-software integration key, Apple is best example

Oracle's founder and CEO reaffirmed his commitment to custom hardware for its products, but promises not to lock customers in

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claims his company will continue to bet on selling high-end custom hardware for its software products, even amidst a growing trend toward roomfuls of cheap, generic servers.

"You have to be in the hardware business and the software business, to get the best possible system," he said during a keynote speech at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in Tokyo. "We believe it's the right idea, we believe it's the next generation of computing, we believe all the pieces have to fit together."

Ellison, as he has often done in the past, repeatedly referred to Apple as his "favorite example" of such tight integration. He was a close friend of Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs and previously served on Apple's board of directors.

He said sales of Oracle's advanced servers were booming and generating around a billion dollars a year in revenue for the company, which has until recent years focused almost exclusively on its software offerings.

With the explosion of popular online services and the increasing number of mobile devices that access them, demand is high for databases that can quickly respond to high numbers of relatively simple queries. While Oracle is pitching its expensive, finely-tuned machines to meet this requirement, Internet behemoths like Google, Facebook and Microsoft increasingly rely on armies of low-cost, easily replaceable servers.

Ellison emphasized the high specifications of Oracle's servers, which come packed with multiple terabytes of RAM and flash-based storage for speed. Such machines are superior to large server farms, he said, because they require far less electricity and floor space, and are also cost competitive.

When asked about whether purchasing such products would lock customers in to expensive hardware from Oracle, he promised that the company's software would always run on "multiple hardware sources."

Ellison, who spoke from Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, was shown live online via webcast. The Oracle founder has a fondness for Japanese architecture and is staying in his large garden residence in the city.

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