Oracle declared a price war on Microsoft when it cut the price of its entry-level database to match that of SQL Server earlier this month. Since then, thereve been compelling reasons put forth by Microsoft (I know: how surprising—not!) and AMR Research to point out all the good reasons why SQL Server fans would rather fight than switch to Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One.
The reasons run thus: First, in spite of the fact that Standard Edition is now priced at $4,995 per processor, just like the good old proletariat SQL Server, and in spite of the fact that you can now get double the amount of processors for that money, you still only get two processors, compared with SQL Servers max of four CPUs for its entry-level database.
Next reason: SMB businesses—those to whom this price-cutting maneuver is aimed—dont purchase databases. They purchase software solutions. Whoever sells them that software solution pretty much decides which database it will run on.
Therefore, its really VARs, ISVs and resellers who call the shots when it comes time to choose whether theyre working with SQL Server or Oracle. There are undoubtedly plenty of VARs who love working with Oracle—Oracle claims there are loads and loads of them, at any rate—but the truth of the matter is that Microsoft is seen as being the king of the hill in this space.
Nothing like a freebie
There are plenty of other reasons why the price cuts dont impress SQL Server fans, including the fact that Microsoft gives away its Reporting Services business intelligence software for free with SQL Server, whereas Oracle charges extra for this functionality.
Thats a huge value-add for a small business. Take a company like Cascade Designs, a company that sells outdoor products such as camping stoves and takes in less than $100 million a year. The companys been using both Reporting Services and Microsofts OLAP product, Analysis Services, for the past three or four years. Between those two free products, theyre doing BI that they would have only been able to achieve were they to spend five or six figures on something like Cognos or Business Objects.
Theres more. Theres the cost of the manpower it takes to run Oracle. That relates to ease of use—which, granted, is supposed to be pretty darn improved in 10g. But still, Oracles got a long, long history of requiring a lot of knob-turning by a lot of very smart, very well-paid people.
Obviously, the reasons for sticking with SQL Server go on and on. But, to be fair, there are good reasons why some businesses should stop and think about the choice, now that the choice of Oracle has been made more appealing in some respects. High availability and the potential for exponential growth come to mind.
Oracles better for some
If you talk to a data warehousing expert like Ian Abrahamson, CTO of Red Sky Data, hell tell you that its all about sitting down and asking yourself what your corporate database direction is. If its to build into a strong environment with a lot of features and the ability to reduce vulnerability to downtime, then Oracle is a good direction to go in. “Over time, its, Where are you going, where are you today, what do you foresee?” Abrahamson says. “The choice was, If you go with SQL Server, youll be tied to Windows and Microsoft forever. Plus you wont be able to move to Linux [or Unix]. … Now, [with the price cut], you have an opportunity to grow into your vision.”
If you take that argument to SQL Server fans, many will tell you that Microsofts database is plenty robust and scalable enough for their needs. Indeed, many believe that the “its not robust or scalable” rap is dated. There was some kernel of truth at the beginning of time, but Microsoft has grown the database since it was first introduced. The fact that SQL Server did so great in Winter Corp.s annual survey of the worlds biggest, most heavily used databases says a lot.
After considering all the pros and cons of one database over the other, what it all comes down to could well be that Oracles price cut amounts to preaching to the choir. For most businesses that consciously choose their database platform, the decision has been made, and a $1,000 price cut off the initial software price wont sway them much.
Milk the price war
With regards to businesses on the fence about which platform to go with, thats another story entirely. Bear in mind that during price-war times like these, youve got the vendors on the run. If you want to see Oracle come up with something near and dear to your heart, such as per-employee or per-enterprise pricing schemes, now would be the time to make your wishes known. After all, theres nothing like a price war to give off a whiff of vendor desperation.
Have you have been swayed from SQL Server and toward Oracle because of Oracles recent price cut? If so, Id love to hear your rationale. Write me at [email protected]
eWEEK.com Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.