Oracle to unveil database for small, medium enterprises

Heeding the call from small and mid-market businesses (SMBs) for enterprise-calibre functionality at a lower cost, Oracle Corp. on Wednesday announced a new entry-level database that it claims offers SMBs the best of both worlds.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company unveiled the Oracle Standard Edition One – a single processor version of its Standard Edition database. Despite a price tag of US$5,995 per processor for an unlimited number of users – US$195 per named user with a minimum of five users or a US$979 entry point – Oracle assured users that Standard Edition One comes with the same traditional performance, reliability and security of the Oracle Database. The main difference, according to the firm is this offering includes simplified management and installation features.

“It is as robust as the Standard and Enterprise editions and is not a scaled down version,” explained Jacqueline Woods, vice-president of pricing and licensing for Oracle during a conference call. “Our customers really wanted the same security and performance offered in the Enterprise and Standard editions, but in a lower-end offering.”

Standard Edition One is available for all platforms supported by the Standard and Enterprise Editions including Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, Sun Microsystems’ Solaris and Linux, and is currently available on the Oracle 9i platform. As with other database releases and upgrades, Oracle customers who are currently supported will be entitled to the next version – 10g, due out at the end of the year – at no additional cost and with no additional licensing fees, the company said.

Pricing for the entry-level offering pales in comparison to Oracle’s flagship software. The Oracle Standard Edition lists for approximately US$15,000 per CPU and the Enterprise Edition cashes in at US$40,000 per processor, according to Woods.

But Oracle is not the only major player to tread into the SMB waters. IT vendors have been targeting smaller businesses of late as spending among their traditional base of enterprise customers has slowed. IBM Corp. has launched an Express line of products for smaller businesses, which includes a version of its DB2 database.

Such products are typically designed to be easier to use and require less maintenance than their counterparts aimed at the enterprise, with a view to serving companies that have smaller IT departments. As well as smaller businesses, they’re also aimed at departments and branch offices within enterprises.

According to research firm Gartner Inc., SMBs will “remain under pressure to focus more on core competencies and achieve better results with fewer resources,” and Oracle intends its Standard Edition One to alleviate some of the pressure by providing a scalable, secure environment for what the company believes is a reasonable investment.

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-With files from IDG News Service