Company executives on Wednesday said developers can download a free version of the Oracle 9i database from Oracle's Web site.
Oracle ranks first in database market share, beating out rivals IBM and Microsoft, according to a recent study by Gartner. Database software is crucial to businesses and Web sites because it stores, manages and retrieves vast amounts of data.
A "developer" version of Oracle 9i was made available to software developers last Friday and is available for the Solaris and HP-UX operating systems, said Bob Shimp, senior director for Oracle database marketing. In the coming days, the company will make available a free "developer" version for the Linux operating system.
The developer version allows software programmers to start testing and developing with the 9i database, but if they decide to use it for their business needs, they will have to pay Oracle for its use, Shimp said.
Oracle executives have touted Oracle 9i as faster, better performing, more secure and easier to manage than the company's previous products.
It features new "clustering" technology that will make the company's databases perform more reliably than before. Clustering helps businesses to harness multiple servers to run a very large database, allowing servers to share work or take over from each other if one fails.
It also includes built-in analysis tools designed to help managers and executives make better business decisions. The built-in tools for "data warehousing" allow companies to examine business information, seek out patterns and trends, and predict the future.
So far, about 10,000 people have downloaded the developer version of Oracle 9i, Shimp said. The company will launch the new database next Thursday at company headquarters.