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Oracle Slashes Prices of Entry-Level Database

Oracle Corp. announced lower prices on Tuesday for the entry-level version of its new Oracle Database 10g, which is shipping now for Unix and Linux and will be available for Windows later.

Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One now costs $4,995 per processor, $1,000 or 17 percent less than its former price of $5,995. Named User Plus licenses, equivalent to Client Access Licenses in the Microsoft world, also dropped in price 24 percent, from $195 each to $149. The minimum number of Named User Plus licenses Oracle allows is five.

Standard Edition One is the lowest of Oracle's three-tier core database offering. It supports up to two processors, up from one processor when Oracle first rolled out the edition in October. The Standard Edition, which supports up to four processors, costs $15,000 per processor, unchanged from Oracle9i. The Enterprise Edition costs $40,000 per processor, also unchanged from Oracle9i.

The price cut is aimed at Microsoft's SQL Server, which has a list price of $4,999 per processor in its Standard Edition, and has proven tough competition for Oracle among small and medium enterprises. Microsoft also competes against Oracle on the higher end with its $19,999 per processor Enterprise Edition. On a per-user or per-CAL basis, a customer could now get Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One with five Named User Plus licenses for $745 compared to $1,489 for SQL Server Standard Edition with 5 CALs.

Jacqueline Woods, the Oracle vice president in charge of pricing and licensing, says the Standard Edition One gives Oracle a presence in a low-end market it didn't compete in before. "Prior to us launching Standard Edition One in October, the lowest priced product we had was Standard Edition (at $15,000 per processor). This is 67 percent cheaper," Woods said during a conference call Tuesday morning.

Oracle also bills its solution as more of a savings over SQL Server when Oracle's database is coupled with Linux on the same industry-standard servers that power the Microsoft stack. At the same time, Oracle is contending that its 10g database is bringing it to near parity with SQL Server on ease of use and installation.

Microsoft officials, meanwhile, argue that Oracle's moves do not go far enough to wipe out Oracle's hidden costs. "They could give away the database for zero and after three years customers still would have saved money with SQL Server," said Tom Rizzo, director of SQL Server Product Management for Microsoft. Rizzo argues that several factors make SQL Server the better value including the bundling of business intelligence and data warehousing functionality, ease of use, ease of installation and support for four CPUs in the entry-level edition compared to Oracle's two CPUs.

Oracle officials said the Windows version would "follow by a very few weeks" the release of other platforms. For several product generations, Oracle has released the Windows version later than Unix or Linux versions. The Oracle9i version for Windows came out 3 1/2 months after the June 2001 ship date for other platform versions of Oracle9i.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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