Larry Ellison ponders netbook idea

They say a week is a long time in politics but five minutes is a long time in the brain of Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.

Apparently, Larry Ellison, speaking at the Sun Java One conference in San Francisco yesterday mentioned netbooks in passing and said he saw no reason why such devices couldn’t come from Sun-Oracle, once the merger is completed.

Ellison has very strong views about, well, just about everything. I was at an Oracle User conference in Amsterdam in the 1990s when he was quizzed about his backing of the Network Computer (NC) – a machine that stored data not on a local hard drive but in a repository out there somewhere on the Internet.

A journalist – not me – asked him whether data held in that way on an NC device would be safe in Oracle’s hands. Rather irritated, Ellison said that data would be safer in his care than in the hack’s hands. Probably true – technical journalists are not necessarily the most conscientious at looking after their own computer systems.

In fact, the NC was a failure, but Ellison’s idea has taken shape over the years, and is best exemplified by the “cloud” concept that is now a commonplace.

Perhaps more importantly, Ellison was at pains to say that Oracle will certainly continue to support Java and we guess that there’s a match between that and netbooks too. There certainly wouldn’t be a great deal of sense in Sun producing the netbook hardware.

Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems and Larry Ellison of Oracle have always been pals and it seems like the combination of both will continue to offer servers and storage – re-assuring to those shops that have pinned their colors to the Sun Microsystems mast.

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