Oracle is planning to release a free low-end version of its database to rival open-source alternatives on the market.
Oracle is expected to announce the availability of Oracle 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE) later this week, with users being able to get the software by the year end.
The new database will be aimed at the leading open-source MySQL platform and the free lower-end DB2 database recently launched by IBM. Microsoft is expected to release a free version of its SQL Server 2005 later this year.
Oracle’s move is particularly designed to capture the attention of the student and developer market. The company believes increased use of and experience of Oracle database will feed through into greater commercial sales in the enterprise market.
The product is also aimed at small businesses, and other software suppliers that could potentially embed the database in their own applications.
Even though the database will have the same functionality as higher-end Oracle databases, it will only run on servers with one processor with limited memory, so the company will not end up cannibalising its main higher-end revenue stream.