Oracle Releases Cheaper Database

Oracle Standard Edition One targeted for SMBs and departments at large companies.

Oracle Corp. on Wednesday released a version of its enterprise-class database designed and priced for small and mid-sized businesses.

The Oracle Standard Edition One will run on a single processor—a contrast to the big Oracle 10g database that the company introduced last month, which is supposed to scale broadly across a distributed computing grid.

The new database package is essentially the Oracle 9i database management system limited so it runs only on one processor. It is priced at $5,995 for an unlimited number of users tapping into the single processor, or $195 per user with a minimum of five users. With the per user pricing, a company could license Oracles database for as little as about $1,000, company officials said. Users will be able to upgrade to Oracle 10g when it is available; it is slated for the end of this year.

Oracle is touting Standard Edition One as a strong option for partners who want a lower priced database option to run with applications for smaller companies, and as an entry point from which those customers can upgrade to Oracle 10g.

"Oracle Standard Edition One will be the first product that is an entry-level product for Oracle customers that provides the traditional reliability and scalability of our enterprise-level product," said Oracle Vice President of Global Licensing and Pricing Strategy Jacqueline Woods, in a conference call. "This is not a scaled-down version of the Oracle Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition [database]. You will have the same functionality; the limitation is that it [runs only on a] one-processor machine."

The Standard Edition of the Oracle database can run on up to four processors and is priced at $15,000 or $300 per named user. The Enterprise Edition is priced at $40,000 or $800 per named user, Woods said.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., company is only the latest database vendor to target smaller companies and departments in bigger firms. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., this summer began shipping DB2 Express, a version of its DB2 Universal Database for SMBs. The IBM database ships with 65 tools for automating and simplifying database functions—something designed to appeal to companies that cant afford to have a lot of database administrators on staff.

DB2 Express, which supports Linux and Windows, also comes with a raft of wizards. Unlike the full enterprise-version, DB2 Express does not include the same support for clustering, data warehousing, data mining and some business intelligence features.

While Oracle has not added any special tools to make it easier for smaller IT shops to run Oracle Standard Edition One, Woods said that when Oracle 10g becomes available, customers who chose to license it under the Standard Edition One scheme will get the rapid installation and ease-of-management features inherent in that product.

Woods said that customers should not necessarily expect the new offering to signal a line of Standard Edition One products from Oracle. Research has not shown demand for a single-processor version of the Oracle Application Server, for instance, she said, but Woods did not rule that out if there is customer demand.

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