"Basically, [Workgroup Edition] is focusing against the open-source database community," he said. "The fact is that the penetration of open-source has been in the lower-level, entry-level database deployments, and thats where the traction is today. Having a Workgroup [Edition] works for customers looking for small scale. A few CPUs is good enough, and the lower price will certainly help. Its a good strategy to look at [to attract] customers looking at low-cost DBMSes." Meanwhile, Yuhanna said that Oracle has been gaining traction in the entry-level database market with its Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One, which it released last year. "We have seen customers moving to using Oracle for entry-level, small-scale deployments," he said. "SQL Server dominated in the past."The database price wars have been going on for a while: For its part, in June 2003 IBM released DB2 Express, a low-cost version of its DB2 UDB (Universal Database) aimed at SMBs.As far as the new Dell relationship goes, Yuhanna said that the partnering will help customers to get a more robust and reliable solution in a bundleparticularly attractive to the small-scale deployments Microsoft is seeking to target. "Oracle, as you know, has been very successful in partnering with Dell and Intel, especially with its Linux strategy," he said. "Customers are looking for solutions in the entry level, and they dont want just a database component. Its a good strategy for Microsoft. They really have to partner with someone to roll out these lower-end entry-level databases. In the high-end deployments, things change. You need specialized hardware, specialized storage, to make it work. But in low-to-medium deployments, its a solution that really makes a difference." Besides fending off advances from IBM, Oracle and open-source databases in the market for entry-level databases, Microsoft is also fighting for market share in the high end. As such, in its packaging and pricing announcement, Microsoft is playing up the fact that enterprises get high-end features included in the basic database price, as opposed to having to pay more for BI (business intelligence) tools or performance monitoring and tuning tools. "Our mantra is No expensive add-ons," Rizzo said. "You get it all in the box: performance monitoring and tuning, BI, all that." For example, Oracles Tuning Pack costs $3,000 over its $40,000 per-processor base database system, $3,000 for its Diagnostic Pack, and $10,000 for partitioning. IBMs DB2 Performance Expert costs $10,000 over its $25,000 per-processor base price. Other add-ons include RAC (Real Application Clusters) for Oracle at $20,000 and a BI bundle at $40,000, while both IBM and Oracle charge per core on multicore chips. Next Page: Microsoft wants to play with the big boys, too.