March 7, 2002
Larry Ellison, Chairman, CEO
Jon Simmons, VP Oracle Life Sciences
Tailoring Databases for Life Science
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Simmons: For the past decade, Oracle has worked very closely with leading life sciences companies to understand their specific needs and provide them with state-of-the-art technology platforms that are critical to their activities. We are already the market leader and are considered the de facto standard. Currently, 65 percent of all life sciences companies run on Oracle and 45 percent of companies that conduct clinical trials run Oracle.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Ellison: I’ve always been very interested in biology, but not from the point of view that we’re trying to create a giant business around biology. I’ve always been interested in the science. I do not really discriminate between scientists who want to work in the private sector for profit, or scientists who work non-profit. If they’re good scientists and they have good ideas, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they get to pursue those ideas. My mother died of cancer, and I don’t think she would have cared [about] the motives of the person who would have cured that disease before she died.
My industry is going to become pretty boring soon—I don’t believe you’ll ever see this proliferation of informatics companies or computer companies like you saw in the decade of the Nineties. The life sciences industry is where horizons are wide open. There’ll be lots and lots of companies born, lots of new products, lots of new science at least for the next 50 years. Because of that, again for purely cold-hearted commercial reasons, we’ve decided to focus heavily on the life sciences industry.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Ellison: We are tailoring our database technology specifically for life sciences. We provide not only the database and the application server but also the basic business applications and services to run a [life sciences] business, to do those mundane things. We can [also] offer everything from the exotic image comparison algorithms to fuzzy matching of base-pair sequences, and other things that we haven’t figured out yet because [the community hasn’t] told us yet.
Simmons: Oracle 9i Application Server and Oracle software development and analytical tools help life sciences companies in the discovery process to track, manage, share and analyze vast quantities of data from multiple sources in a single environment on a highly scaleable, reliable and available platform. Oracle’s data warehousing and data-mining solutions, and analytical and query tools help life sciences companies identify patterns and relationships and predict outcomes in a variety of data in multiple formats.
What new products and services do you have in development?
Ellison: There are a bunch of things that we’re doing, including working with some next-generation disc suppliers in Israel who are building very low cost, very intelligent high-speed disc searching techniques that we can actually exploit inside of our database. We’ve been working on [clustering technology] for a decade and actually had to work with microprocessor manufacturers to [enable] very fast computer-to-computer communications that allowed us to get clustering to work in a scalable, high-performance way. I think we’ll be able to deal with databases of petabytes and beyond.
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