Oracle on Tuesday announced the arrival of 10g -- and a lower-than-expected price for the version of the product that's aimed at small and midsized businesses.
The pricing change steps up the company's battle against Microsoft's SQL Server, which has had a stranglehold on the SMB space for years.
"Making our entry-level pricing the same as Microsoft's shows that we're serious about competing head on with SQL Server," said Jacqueline Woods, Oracle's vice president of global practices and pricing, during a press briefing Tuesday. "Now we're saying it's time to lower our price to penetrate broader markets."
The price for 10g Standard Edition One is $4,995 per processor, and the maximum server capacity has been extended to two processors. An alternate pricing plan offers Standard Edition One for $149 per user, with a minimum of five users.
In addition, Oracle is offering its Real Application Clusters (RAC) free to those who purchase 10g Standard Edition One.
The price for the standard edition of Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 is about $5,000 per processor.
Oracle introduced an early version of Standard Edition One in October, at a price of $5,995 per processor -- which Oracle hoped would help lure cost-conscious users. In October, IBM also released a reduced-cost database, DB2 Express, which it sells for about $4,000 per processor.
Even though 10g is now generally available, Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said that many enterprises will wait to try it. In a year or so, though, companies may begin to make the switch, he said.
Typically, it takes about six months before the bugs are worked out, he said. Oracle will also face some challenges in persuading its customers to upgrade to 10g, he said.
"Definitely, there will be some large enterprises that are going to get their hands on it in their environment and see how it works," Yuhanna said. "Right now, there is a crunch in DBA resources for migrations, so enterprises are going to look at what are the benefits of getting 10g before actually migrating to it."
Some SQL Server users remain doubtful that Oracle's new pricing strategy will lure them to 10g. Kurt Windisch, vice president of marketing for the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS), said he was skeptical that the lower pricing would lure SQL Server users, primarily because of staffing issues.
"My first reaction is, basically, it's interesting in that price has always been a selling point for Microsoft," Windisch said. "But if you have SQL Server administrators, you aren't going to be able to switch over your whole shop."
The price of Oracle's Standard Edition will remain at $15,000 per processor. The price for the company's Enterprise Edition has not changed; it costs $40,000 per processor.
Many Oracle fans are excited about the arrival of 10g. Sergei Shepelev, an Oracle DBA and member of the Dallas Oracle Users Group, said that grid represents a giant leap into the future of database technology. A teacher of an Oracle certification class at Richland College in Richardson, Texas, Shepelev said that many of his students still have questions about 10g.
"The grid concept is not easy to grasp for general folks, but it's going to be a big hit," Shepelev said. "I'm interested in the automatic space management and the other nice automated features. But, again, whether it works depends on the environment, and we'll have to wait and see."
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