Oracle to Offer Free Database

Yup, you read that right, Oracle is going to offer a free database product. This is a gratis version and not a libre version, of course, but for Oracle even that is a huge step. Now, they have offered a free devel version for a long time…but this is a production version (although the limitations of 4GB disk and 1GB RAM are really low). This is surely a response to IBM and Microsoft doing something similar with DB2 and MSSQL Express. The database market is really starting to commoditize. The recent feature upgrades of MySQL with the release of 5.x coupled with Sun and some other large companies starting to really rally around PostgreSQL means that the commoditization is likely going to move one layer up in the DB market very soon. Oracle clearly doesn't like that. While I initially thought this free release might be based on InnoDB due to the recent acquisition, it's not. They're hoping to win mind share and also introduce Oracle to people who wouldn't normally be exposed to it, hoping one day those people will turn into decision makers. One thing that I found interesting was that, contrary to recent MySQL AB comments that the two vendors don't compete with each other, an Oracle spokesman specifically mentioned MySQL as a competitor that they'd like to target. I also found it interesting that the main reason given for the recent Innobase acquisition was “Oracle intends to extend a contract with MySQL where the InnoDB storage engine is packaged with MySQL”. No… that's not predatory. I'd watch out Monty.
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–jeremy

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