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Oracle begins shipping 10g database

The database giant releases Unix editions of its "grid" database, with Linux and Windows versions expected to follow shortly.

Oracle has started shipping final versions of its "grid" database, a product launch that could spark more competition among database providers.

The database giant made Unix versions of its much-anticipated Oracle 10g database available for download from its Web site over the past few days. Oracle typically releases different editions of its database for major operating systems around the same time, according to an Oracle representative, which means that Linux and Windows editions of Oracle 10g should ship within a few weeks.


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Oracle is planning to hold a press conference concerning Oracle 10g on Tuesday, when the company is expected to release more product details, as well as shipping and pricing information. Completion of the database was originally targeted for the end of 2003. The Unix editions of 10g, available to developers, will run on HP-UX and 64-bit versions of Solaris, according to Oracle.

Last week at an Oracle customer conference, company President Charles Phillips said that Oracle will price the entry-level version of 10g to be on par with Microsoft's SQL Server, an Oracle spokesperson confirmed.

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The price for the standard edition of Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 is about $5,000, according to the company. In October, Oracle lowered the price of its entry-level database, called Standard Edition, to $5,995 per processor. IBM, too, last October introduced cut-rate database pricing for its DB2 Express, which it sells for about $4,000 per processor.

Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are the leading providers of database software, garnering the majority of money spent by corporations on databases. Microsoft's share of the market grew faster than that of Oracle and IBM in 2002 because Microsoft's SQL Server appealed to customers seeking cheap and relatively easy-to-use databases, according to research firm Gartner Dataquest.

Microsoft's database has typically been stronger among smaller organizations or departments of large corporations, while Oracle and IBM are well-established as providers for large-scale computing jobs. The price cuts from Oracle and IBM announced in October were intended to boost both companies' presence among midsize companies, which is considered an important area for growth.


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The high-end version of Oracle 10g is designed to allow companies to string together several low-cost hardware servers to do the work of more expensive equipment. The "grid" features in Oracle 10g, an extension to clustering capabilities in the Oracle database, allow several instances of the database to work in tandem and to share the processing load across different machines.

Software house Cisco, which sells custom applications built on Oracle databases, said that the grid features of Oracle 10g are particularly appealing on Linux because they allow customers to replace a single, more expensive server with a cluster of cheaper Linux servers.

"People haven't been upgrading their servers in the past three years and they're evaluating Linux, and the price is hard to beat," said Mike McDermott, chief operating officer at Cisco, a Des Moines, Iowa, company unaffiliated with networking giant Cisco Systems. McDermott added that the database management features in Oracle 10g should significantly ease the set up and configuration of the grid features.