Win $10 Million From Larry Ellison!

Did Larry Ellison mention that Oracle competes with IBM?

One of the recurring themes throughout this week's Oracle OpenWorld conference was the vendor's claims that its hardware servers " both its own Exadata database server and those of its soon-to-be-owned Sun Microsystems " outperform IBM hardware.

CEO Ellison is even offering a $10 million prize to anyone who can find an application that doesn't run twice as fast on a Sun server as on a comparable IBM server configuration.

Oracle started the week with an announcement that its Oracle 11g database running on Sun Sparc servers set a new world record TPC-C benchmark of 7.7 million tpmC, beating out a 6.1 million tpmC benchmark set by IBM's DB2 database running on IBM's Power 595 server. Oracle also claimed it achieved the record with a system configuration that used eight times less hardware than the IBM benchmark and consumed four times less energy.

Huge banners hanging inside the Moscone Center also touted the benchmark results.

Ellison followed up the benchmark announcement with some IBM-bashing in his opening keynote Sunday. "If IBM wants to compete, we'll compete," he said during the speech that focused on convincing customers that Oracle intends to maintain Sun's server and storage hardware lines and become a player in those markets.

Backed by a photo of an IBM server configuration that stretched the length of the stage, Ellison mocked the amount of hardware the IBM system needed to achieve its benchmarks, and the amount of power such a system consumed, compared to the comparatively compact Sun configuration. Riffing on IBM's "build a smarter planet" advertising campaign, Ellison said: "At Sun-Oracle we're going to focus on building smarter computers."

It was then that Ellison made his offer of $10 million to anyone -- even IBM, he said -- who could find an application that does not run twice as fast on a Sun server as on a comparable IBM server configuration.

The trash-talking continued midweek with Ellison's closing keynote where he touted the speed of the Exadata database server against competing IBM products and repeated his $10 million challenge.

Ellison has to watch his step, however. Last month the Transaction Processing Council, which sets the database performance benchmarks Oracle is bragging about, levied a $10,000 fine against the company for false advertising. The Council said ads Oracle ran in The Wall Street Journal Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 comparing Sun/Oracle systems to IBM computers violated the "fair use" rules that govern TPC members. The Council said the ads included TPC test results that had not been audited by the organization.