October 28, 2005 6:28 PM PDT

Oracle to offer free database

Oracle intends to release a free version of its database, a reaction to the growing competitive pressure from low-end open-source databases.

The database heavyweight on Tuesday is expected to announce the beta release of Oracle 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE), which will be generally available by the end of the year. It is targeted at students, small organizations and software vendors that could embed the Oracle database with an application.

The latest edition is the same as other databases in Oracle's lineup but is limited in usage. It can only run servers with one processor, with 4GB of disk space and 1GB of memory. Oracle on Friday offered a beta version of the new database for Windows and Linux on its Oracle Technology Network Web site.

The new low-end edition is aimed squarely at free and open-source alternatives to Oracle's namesake database, said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle's server technologies division.

Open-source databases have caught on steadily in popularity over the past few years with corporate customers and Web developers.

MySQL is the most popular open-source database among developers, according to a recent Evans Data study. IBM earlier this month released a free version of its own DB2 database as part of a PHP development package. And Microsoft intends to ship a free version of SQL Server 2005, called Express, next month.

"There is definitely a market there (for low-end databases) and a demand. And we want them to be using Oracle and not MySQL or SQL Server Express," Mendelsohn said. "It's definitely a reaction to the market interest."

About a year and a half ago, Oracle introduced Oracle 10g Standard Edition One, a version aimed at mid-size companies where Microsoft has many customers. That database is limited to two processors and cost $149 per user.

By introducing a free entry-level product, Oracle intends to get more developers and students familiar with its namesake database, Mendelsohn said. Those customers, Oracle hopes, will eventually upgrade to a higher-end version.

"Even though the database is initially free, standards progress and those university students who are playing with the database today will eventually be working at corporations and making product decisions," he said. "We want to have mind-share with those people."

The Express Edition database can be distributed with other products. It will be available through Oracle's developer network and include a Web-based administration console development tools.

Separately, Mendelsohn offered comments on what Oracle intends to do with InnoDB, a storage engine for the MySQL database that Oracle acquired earlier this month.

He said Oracle intends to extend a contract with MySQL where the InnoDB storage engine is packaged with MySQL.

"There are all kinds of possibilities we're exploring," Mendelsohn said. "You might be seeing it showing up in Oracle products."

15 comments

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I see what they are getting at, but...
I don't see the point. The various "low-end"
databases have other advantages other than cost:
they take few system resources, they are much
simpler to install and manage than Oracle, and
things like PostgreSQL have lots of features not
found in Oracle (multiple language stored
procedures, basic array types, user defined types
and operators, etc.).

Honestly, if you are the proverbial college
student tinkering with databases as part of some
project, are you going to go with the
uniprocessor 4G max Oracle DB that takes up 700M
of disk space and 100M of RAM to run and has
fewer bindings and support for applications, or
the open-source alternative included with your
Linux distribution that runs fully SMP without
limits on database size, takes just 8M to run,
and lets you write stored procedures in C, PERL,
Python, Ruby, and Java?
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
too little, too late
Yes, Oracle 10g Express edition is a good thing to do some stuff "the oracle way" and if needed, the small web site can upgrade later to a full version of Oracle 10g..

But up to 4GB disk space and 1 processor? come on! MySQL and PostgreSQL both gives much better value then whats oracle gives..

Someone at Oracle is clearly understimate the open source competing package and thought that by throwing a bone to the community, Oracle will catch up, but thats a very bad offer to this community.
Posted by hetzbh (43 comments )
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College students? How about IT students?
Franky, I've never liked Oracle. Big fan of MySQL for years, back to the 3.x.x days. But I'll probably download the pathetic freebie version to get familiar with it. I've seen several businesses over the barrel with an Oracle database that the DBA left behind (usually because such esoteric knowlege commands extremely decent wages.) Learning Oracle gives you an edge in getting very nice paying jobs at companies desperate to keep using their critical business data and programming that relies on Oracle DBs. But yeah, I would only support an preexisting setup, NEVER recommend it for a new project.
Posted by cnews (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Truely Free Software in usual sense
I checked out the link to download the software and it states: "BETA TRIAL LICENSE: Oracle Corporation ("Oracle") grants to you a no-charge trial license to use the pre-production beta version of the Oracle Database Express Edition software, documentation and product training (the "Software") provided to you by Oracle solely for evaluation purposes until January 31, 2006." Note it is only good for a few months. For a college student it might get him/her through a quarter/semester, but not use it long enough to learn all there is to know about it or for long term development projects done to explore the softwares limits. Seems similar to the "free" trial version of software that comes on some Windows PC's. User can use product for free for a few months and then to continue use they need to pay for software. I assume the deadline date will change, but stay just long enough for semester long classes. Some classes do have full versions for lab use and evaluation version information for use on a PC (i.e. digital design software). I hate it when detail(s) are hidden in places like EULA since most people don't read them.

How does trial version offering get called free software? Microsoft Office has a trial download version that will work for a limited time <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://office.microsoft.com/" target="_newWindow">http://office.microsoft.com/</a> but at least Microsoft doesn't pretend that it is really free.
Posted by cbrade (1 comment )
Link Flag
Might Be Good For Application Vendors
Oracle Lite might be useful for application vendors that sell software that uses Oracle as the database engine. It would allow them to sell into smaller markets, like SOHO, that don't have the budget for their full-blown version. This of course, assumes a seamless port to Lite, i.e. no crippleware beyond the 4/1 GB limit.

I think Lite will also be a boon for students in countries like India, where per capita income is much lower. This is clearly a growth market for Oracle, as outsourcing countinues to shift technology jobs from the U.S. to India and China. In fact, I think Oracle should not waste their time on the U.S. student market at all, and just focus on India. This is truly the "new economy".
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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what is esoteric
about oracle DBs? It is the standard.

If you want to install it on an MS box it takes but a few clicks. Any neophyte can handle that.

If you start talking about RAC, DataGuard or any of the advanced configurations, then there is a learning curve. The wages better be high, those are mission critical scenarios.

I do agree that the open source options are taking market share away at smaller shops. I guess that's why they are moving into apps.
Posted by BogusName (33 comments )
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NOT the problem, Not a solution, either.
There are things that Oracle could do to strengthen their competitiveness, but this isn't one of them.

The MySQL or Postgres market is not a low end Oracle market, and making a limited version of Oracle available will just look silly. The choice point on Oracle versus Open Source is based on commercial stability and support, not price.

What Oracle has to concentrate on now is their non database market, which is dying on the vine due to lack of execution on Oracle's part.

This affects every aspect of Oracles market and gives competitors a entry point to wean customers from their database market and also blocks opportunities like thier advanced technical services business.

Take the portal business, for example. If you wnat an open source J2EE based portal, well, the major players are Jetspeed (relatively basic), Exo (with a GPL contaminating it), Liferay (very slow and poorly documented, but otherwise alright), GridSphere (fast, but not Pluto based and with funding and business focus uncertainties), and Pentaho (new, uncertain, and based on JBOSS) Not a really good choice in the bunch.

And in the commercial sector, Oracle Portal is losing badly to WebSphere Portal. This is especially embarassing to Oracle, since Oracle Portal is one of the oldest and most mature portals, and should have been dominating the market.

The problem is that Oracle appears, at least, to have spent little effort or resources at productizing Oracle Portal, so only the most experienced developers can take advantage of it's capabilities in an enterprise setting.

At the very least, Oracle could have produced a decent set of documentation, some Eclipse plugin's , a few missing portlets and cleaned up the worst of the "mysterious hacks" needed to get it going in a real world environment.

For a fraction of what they paid for InnoDB, which doesn't do ANYTHING for their competitive position, Oracle could have an industry leading portal, with all that implies to their competitiveness and cross selling capabilities.

The same issues apply to most of Oracles non database offerings. Fixing those issues is where Oracle could most effectively be spending their resources.
Posted by randyjg (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
But it is a good move
It's late, both IBM and Oracle are very late to this market. Before MYSQL and PostgreSQL came along MS already had a "free" version of SQL Server available. The biggest difference now is that with SQL Server 2005, MS's free version will have management tools available for the first time.

The reason why this is a good move is because it makes a tool available for low end developers to use to develop applications that rely on Oracle's database available at a cost even the cheapest of developers can afford. Now instead of making a product that's qualified for use with MYSQL, PostgreSQL or MS SQL Server they can also add Oracle and DB2 to the list of supported database servers. A very important point when selling the application to a company that's standardized on a single database product.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Oracle Vs Everybody else
I have to agree with some of the other comments in this talkback. I don't know much about Oracle except that it's expensive and according to a few Oracle DBA's much to complex for my fible mind. But I do think Oracle is barking up the wrong tree with the wrong dog.

What do Oracle, Microsoft, and SUN have in common? They get chills everytime they here the words open source. Since Open Source has become a viable business model all three of those companies have started trying to compete with it by either creating their own open/shared source, free, or cut rate products.

I think it will be interesting to see what the future holds for all of these companies.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oracle's clueless on this one...
...1 processor and 4 gb of disk space and 1 gb of RAM? ***? Why not use Access, mySQL, Postgress, SQL Server? This Oracle edition will be a complete waste of time.

Most people who would use this database, want it to support a website.

Oracle let Microsoft dominate the ISP world. You can barely find an ISP that does Oracle hosting cheap. I used to have one, but they eventually decided to get rid of Oracle due to licensing reasons.

If I want to create a web app, I'll use what my ISP has. Either mySQL, Postgress, or SQL Server.

Although I'm a professional Oracle DBA, I cannot use Oracle for my own personal web applications because my ISP and most others don't offer Oracle as an option.

The Oracle licensing genius who let this happen should be fired.
Posted by nazzdeq (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting?
Problem is Oracle has a cash cow, that needs to be protected at the same time that it needs to win the hearts and minds of the future. Oracle's problem is its marketing.

Microsoft beat Apple in the early days because Apple sold people what they needed and Microsoft sold them what they thought they wanted. Big difference, and Microsoft is still at it, only problem is Oracle sells what companies need
Posted by lbj_w (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Free Oracle g xe
It will a new exploration for SOHO application. With PHP it will definitely get attention for its brand name Oracle. Otherwise MySql is already taken over. Hope there may be some special offer for Open Source development with Oracle especially with PHP the king of the web.
Posted by dhirajpatra (1 comment )
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Hey all guys out there ! I am a newbie and still trying mysql and postgresql and found that postgresql quite easy to be installed but the problems with interface gui only availiable using
Rekall. Why would one one to use msaccess gui to interface if we really want something from theopensource for free 100%? That meants we have to install postgresql and rekall separately to use it. Its a good try for Oracle 10g though where it comes with gui for interface in one installation,but the space requirement is really too bigh compare to those of postgresql.
It will be leverage furthere for Postgresql with a itself a gui to interface and add forms for data
inputing and retrieving.
Why not if its free for Oracle 10g ? But the many other things we really have to consider that 4/1 GB limit , right? Thats meants the lower end database engines still have their advantage over big disk space and rams to be use, and be tough for Oracle 10g to on Par ? !

Newbie
Posted by hoe_teo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Well I am a developer of oracle for past 15 years ! I agree oracle is very late in the market. Mysql and MSsql has captured the ground. The only way i see to enter the market is to take out a free version and also lightweight like mysql which can be easily managed version. It will make a killing. Also I have seen that the future applications will be web 2.0 so oracle has to struggle on it and grasp its space somehow with low cost solutions. If we consider cost of oracle hosting as a developer, it is sky-rocketing cost. It is quiet natural because the database management is difficult for a noob. if the database is lightweight and easily manageable, then i think the hosting cost will also come down. Also oracle should concentrate to joint venture of its light weight web version with asp and php and make some more efforts. which will give oracle a grand success !
Posted by aspardeshi (1 comment )
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