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Database Business Problems at Oracle? 210

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the good-but-not-good-enough dept.
abb_road writes "Wall Street responded to yesterday's report of a 42% rise in profits by pushing Oracle's stock down. Despite a 77% increase in applications business, investors are worried that Oracle's core database business remains comparatively stagnant. Though Ellison claims that the DB business will grow in double digits over the next few years, it seems that more companies are switching to open source rather than paying Oracle $40,000 a processor."
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Database Business Problems at Oracle?

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  • Works for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tcopeland (32225) * <tom@thomaslYEATS ... d.com minus poet> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:12PM (#14964467) Homepage
    PostgreSQL is certainly working fine as a Ruby on Rails and Jabber backend [blogs.com] for us... maybe I'll worry about it once we get up over a few terabytes, but for now, it's more than capable of handling everything we throw at it.

    And good books [blogs.com] keep coming out for it, too, which is reassuring.
    • Re:Works for me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by networkBoy (774728)
      Really that's what it comes down to:
      If the cost of lower performance is less than $40K per CPU then OSS is the way to go. Since OSS is in a continual state of improvement, I've got to think that it is the selection of choice for anyone with a budget. It is most certainly at least worth a look, even to an entrenched Oracle or MSSQL camp.
      -nB
    • Re:Works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:34PM (#14964643) Homepage Journal
      Sure. Oracle's seen the writing on the wall here, thus we have Oracle Express.

      In an odd way, this may make Oracle's high end database product more secure.

      There is no way that Postgres or MySQL is even close to the kinds of scalability and features that Oracle has. Trust me. It's just that people like you don't need certain capabilities that are a very good deal for Oracle customers. Nor do 99% of all applications. But in terms of value 99% of applications doesn't amount to 99% of profit for an outfit like Oracle.

      There's no way that MS SQL Server comes close either. Trust me on this one too. I've used both. SQL Server is perfectly adequate and maybe even preferable for many applications, but comparing it to Oracle is a joke. Just recently I read a MS announcement of a middling-huge application that was done on SQL server. I was impressed, until I realized it wouldn't be remotely newsworthy if it has been done in Oracle. It was impressive for SQL Server, and probably only possible given certain aspects of the application.

      What Postgres and MySQL mean is that in the long term there are no profits in the low end of the database market for general RDBMS duties, and not much future in the mid-range. Take them out of the picture, and Microsoft has a self-funded machine for nibblng its way into the high end. I'm not saying they won't get there, but I see a potential for financial pain along the way. The market position for SQL Server is really this: it integrates well with the MS tools, and its available on all MS OS platforms (Wince and NT derivatives). If it weren't for that, then it would be a sitting duck.

      Oracle XE there mainly as a way to keep mind share. It means a lot more people will be familiar with Oracle technology, providing a cadre of workers who are prepared for large scale apps.

      • Re:Works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:57PM (#14964855) Homepage
        But Oracle has built it's business on selling expensive databases to companies who don't even use all the features. I don't think that even 25% of their customers really need the power of Oracle. Oracle is a great database, but isn't worth it for most people.
        • Re:Works for me (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hey! (33014)
          But Oracle has built it's business on selling expensive databases to companies who don't even use all the features. I don't think that even 25% of their customers really need the power of Oracle. Oracle is a great database, but isn't worth it for most people.

          Well, this is capitalism. If somebody is willing to pay $20K where $3K would do, well... On the other hand, Microsoft made Oracle stand up and take notice. As a result of this, Oracle Standard has been priced pretty much the same as SQL Server. Th
      • But the problem with SQL Server for Oracle is that each SQL Server release narrows the gap. Before SQL 6.5, SQL Server was a joke. By 7 it was good for web enabled apps, 2000 could handle a decent amount of traffic and provide reasonably high availabilty. 2005 looks to be an improvement, probably needs a few service packs though.

        This is what Microsoft does best, they put out a product and slowly over time make it eat into market share and improve the features until it becomes the market leader. They h
      • Sure. Oracle's seen the writing on the wall here, thus we have Oracle Express.

        I suspect that Oracle Express is more pitched in the same space as MS SQL Server Express (and MSDE before it) - as a database engine for development and small deployments and a shoe-in for the commercial products if / when they are needed. IBM do likewise. Perhaps the penny has dropped that MS is getting a lot of business this way.

        To be honest, I reckon Postgres & MySQL should be producing "express" versions too for XP. Th

  • by Camel Pilot (78781) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:14PM (#14964487) Homepage Journal
    As databases such as MySQL, MS SQL and PostgreSQL and others keep adding features and performance the RDBMS are becoming more and more of a commodity market. To be expected.
    • Main use (Score:3, Interesting)

      The main use for ultra scalable, ultra high-performance databases is for the core transactional DB of a large-scale app. Most apps that serve the other 80% of the DB needs don't need to be Oracle-grade. MS Sql Server or PostrgessSQL are a perfect fit. In fact, for the vast majority of companies, even their main transactional DB doesn't need to be Oracle-grade.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:15PM (#14964492)
    But my company is looking closely at SqlServer right now. We just went through an Oracle license Inquisition and like the article said, it's about $40k a license or just under $1000 per named user. OTOH we can buy a SqlServer license for around $5k and have as many users as we want. T-Sql is a poor replacement for PL/SQL, but money talks.

    Before you go all Slashbot on me, realize that my company is very conservative with respect to technology, so Open Source is unfortunately not an option here...
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:26PM (#14964569) Journal
      Your post seems to confirm my working hypothesis that the word "conservative" has become synonomous with "shooting one's self in the foot".
    • The thing to keep in mind is not what your DB needs are now, but what they will be 2 - 5 years from now. Will SQL Server still be your best choice? Moving from one database to another can be very painful and extremely expensive.

      And of course, there's always the "nobody gets fired for picking Oracle" argument. :)
    • "my company is very conservative with respect to technology, so Open Source is unfortunately not an option here..."

      So what happened to your servers when Sun decided to Open Source the Solaris operatinf system? You started out as conservative as can be with Sun SPARC servers runnnig Solaris and are happy with none of that new untried stuff like Intel based servers and then without asking you Sun Make Solaris open source. Thank God for Microsoft. They are now the only ones with a fully closed source OS.

    • T-Sql is a poor replacement for PL/SQL, but money talks.

      Pl/pgSql (That's PostgreSQL's pl/sql) is VERY much like Oracles. Naturally it lack some of it's features, but a rewrite from pl/sql to pl/pgsql is dead easy. That means less manhours ... money talks :)

  • by E. Edward Grey (815075) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:16PM (#14964495)
    Well, you could switch to an open source database, and then hire all kinds of brainpower to understand how it works, keep updated on the development, institute updates constantly, search high and low to find someone who can solve the problem that apparently only your company is having... ...or, you could do the exact same thing with Oracle, plus forty large per processor. This decision isn't that hard to make.
    • I say it is a very hard decision to make.

      What if you need 2 or more processors? What if all your IT work is done in India because of the bean counters and these bean counters are needed to pay for Oracle on your 4 cpu system? Fat chance it will get approvaed.

      Sql-Server is insanely popular because you can get support for 1/10th the cost of Oracle. There is also db2 and Sysbase or Postgresql.

      Keep in mind you can find a jr database programmer/admin for $40-60k a year. The same cost savings from not using Oracl
    • Funny, but utterly false. You need the same level of talent on board to deal with Oracle properly as you do to deal with MySQL, Postgres, etc. A highly skilled Oracle DBA or programmer is as expensive as any other similarly skilled technical talent.

      Not to say you don't get anything for the 40 large a processor, you definitely do, but let's not pretend you get some trivial to manage, point-and-click product that you can hire a monkey to deal with. That's absurd.
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:04PM (#14964912) Homepage
        Actually, I would argue that Oracle DBAs demand more than DBAs for other databases. So you not only have to pay more for the Software itself (a lot more) you also have to pay a lot more for the people who are working with it.
        • A COMPETENT person will demand more. Microsoft products will only give you the illusion that you can get away with spending less. If you manage to get an admin for less, you will simply end up getting exactly what you paid for. Then they will be out of their depth as soon as something interesting happens.
    • Well, you could switch to an open source database, and then hire all kinds of brainpower to understand how it works, keep updated on the development, institute updates constantly, search high and low to find someone who can solve the problem that apparently only your company is having... ...or, you could do the exact same thing with Oracle, plus forty large per processor. This decision isn't that hard to make.

      Well done, I was all ready to disagree with you... until you concluded that you have the same issue
  • by yog (19073) * on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:16PM (#14964496) Homepage Journal
    The poster asserts that:
    ...it seems that more companies are switching to open source rather than paying Oracle $40,000 a processor.
    ...and provides exactly one example. It's clear that a little more analysis is needed to back up this claim. A more credible statement might be that companies are choosing either open source databases or lower priced Microsoft and IBM alternatives. DB2 from IBM is actually a lot cheaper per CPU than Oracle's dbms; a former employer of mine had decided to go with DB2 (before the company went under) because it was a fraction of Oracle's $250,000 price for a relatively small system.

    On the other hand, Oracle has been very generous in allowing developer downloads of their DBMS; I was able to take their Linux port, install it on an old box running Red Hat, and port a Microsoft SQL Server-based back end over to Oracle in a couple of days just as an experiment. Obviously, to actually use the product would cost some bucks but this kind of flexibility is what helps keep Oracle's tentacles in so many businesses.

    The other thing that the analysts ignored is that the database and enterprise software business isn't so much about having innovative technology, contrary to what was asserted in the Business Week article but rather having an effective sales organization. DBMS and enterprise management software is sales driven, not innovation driven. Executives don't watch commercials about sexy features in the latest rev of Oracle or Sql Server, then order a few copies from Amazon. It's the inside sales teams that patiently build relationships over the years. IBM knows this, Oracle knows this, and MS knows it too. Sybase tried but their hubris and arrogance brought them down. (direct personal experience with that!)

    No doubt, while Larry crows about upcoming tech innovations, he's internally yelling at the sales teams to get more aggressive, offer more discounts, and steal more customers from Bill and from the SAP people. He'll eke out a few more percentage points of market share, and the investors will be satisfied for a couple more quarters. That's how the business works. ;)
    • by captain_craptacular (580116) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:32PM (#14964619)
      They may be effective, but Oracles sales organization is annoying as hell. I've downloaded many things from Oracles web site, and unfortunately my account *HAD* my real contact information on it. Invariably within 48 hours of any download I would get a call from an Oracle "Technician" asking in broken English if I needed any assistance with whatever I downloaded. The conversation would quickly turn into a mini-license audit, where the "Technician" was more interested in our existing installs and what our licensing was like than how the downloaded product was working. One the rare occasion that I actually could have used some help, the "technician" wouldn't be able to answer the simplest question. It got so bad that the corporate office sent a memo around saying don't talk to anyone from oracle for any reason, just forward them to someone at the home office whos job it is to deal with them.

      It's almost like Oracle is doing everything they possibly can to promote MS Sql. They just went gestapo on us about licensing and decided that every person who walks up to a kiosk running an app with an oracle back end needs to be a named user, that or we need to buy per processor licensing. $80,000 for our dual proc backend box buys a lot developer time to port to a different database.
      • Well, it's easy enough to avoid their marketing calls. Just say, "thanks, it's working fine" and hang-up. It's not like they're going to lock your account or anything like that. Don't ask questions of the marketing droid, go to OTN or MetaLink or many of the DBA sites on the net.

        Oracle also went gestapo at my site as well (state government), insisting on licenses for development databases (right or wrong, they've never done that before). They insist on the same number of CPU licenses for *all options*
    • i.e. the UDB fiasco. Now we ditched the Oracle on Solaris/HP and use Linux so we get the best of both worlds... open source on the OS and a reliable database for mission critical apps.

    • My biggest problem back around 1997, when dealing with Oracle. "Hi, we want to license Your server with the following modules, on XX number of servers, in YY config, with NN max users connected at a time, from a population of ZZ users. What is the price?"

      TRY and get a straight answer out of Oracle. "well, what do you want to use it for" - Answer - none of your business. Tell me what my price options are, and let ME decide what license I want - I might change my config - just give me a price list, and I'
  • by shilad (69929) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:17PM (#14964512) Homepage
    I've heard a lot of debate about Postgresql vs. MySql that doesn't need to be re-hashed for the 1000'th time. On the other hand, I haven't heard much on Oracle vs. Postgresql. I have used Postgresql quite a bit, and think it's wonderful.

    What is Postgresql missing that Oracle has? What does Oracle have that Postgres is missing? When do these features matter?

    Let the flaming begin...
    • I have some data analysis I'm doing right now under PostgreSQL that I previously did under Oracle. Being able to have several parallel processes working on the same query in Oracle makes things go much faster. Oracle is really efficient at creating subsets of data. Most of what I need to do was previously done with lots of "create table as..." statements. Oracle's performance is much better than PostgreSQL for the volume of data I'm working with.

      However, I'm using PostgreSQL now because I keep running i
      • However, I'm using PostgreSQL now because I keep running into problems with the Oracle server. The listener isn't listening to the network, so I only have local access and I need to share the data with others.

        Having tried to install Oracle on all sorts of operating systems over the years it has been my experience that it really helps to run OracleDB on one of the certified Linux distributions: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS/ES. Oracle does not guarantee that an OracleDB will run
        • I tried to install Oracle 8 on some random Linux distribution a long time ago. I learned my lesson about trying to use Oracle outside work. I've been using PostgreSQL since 6.5 and keep finding more reasons to stick with it. We use Sun at work, so I've been lucky enough to avoid the problems you mentioned.

          The Oracle servers at work were installed by DBA's who really knew their stuff. Our current application runs great under Oracle since a lot of Oracle tuning was done. I wouldn't want to have to try to
      • I have some data analysis I'm doing right now under PostgreSQL that I previously did under Oracle. Being able to have several parallel processes working on the same query in Oracle makes things go much faster. Oracle is really efficient at creating subsets of data. Most of what I need to do was previously done with lots of "create table as..." statements. Oracle's performance is much better than PostgreSQL for the volume of data I'm working with.

        There are clustered versions of PostgreSQL out there with the
      • "The listener isn't listening to the network, so I only have local access"

        Type in "lsnrctl status" and take a look at the results - you'll have to probably change your listener. Take a look in $oracle_home\network\admin\listener.ora and if you see only a SID_NAME = PLSExtProc entry, chance are that you haven't set up your listener correctly. Also, make sure you're static IP.
        • This is on a Sun at a large corporation. I'm the sysadmin for that box, so I can fix the problem. However, it's someone else's responsibility and would be considered overtly hostile to do their job. On the other hand, by not using Oracle, I avoid these issues and still get my work done.
    • Postgresql doesn't have some enterprise level features that Oracle has. I mean if you have a bazillion terabyte database and require clustering and other uber-features, then Postgresql isn't even in the same ballpark. And that's where the biggest margins are which is why Oracle does okay for itself.

      Since 90% of database needs don't even approach that, Posgresql acts as a fine replacement, and 70% of installs could do fine with Mysql as well.

      The thing I wonder most is the fact that between MySQL,Postgres,
    • I found a fairly good review of Oracle, Postgres, and MySQL. All sorta recent versions, too. You can read it here:

      http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/oracle/115560 [suite101.com]

      However, it doesn't really get into nitty gritty. Nice primer, though.

      -Tony
    • by ^Z (86325) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:59PM (#14964874) Homepage Journal
      Oracle's strong points over PG:
      - speed
      - mutli-way replication
      - multi-node clusters
      - advanced SQL (cubes, trees, etc)
      - finer details of physical data layout (cluster tables, partitioned tables, etc)
      - stability (unless you use the bleeding edge, which is brittle, alas)

      PG's strong points Oracle:
      - price :) (probably including support)
      - relative simplicity and lower resource consumption
      - easier administration
      - good compatibility with Oracle's SQL ;) (easier migration)
      - source availability

      Also, PG is perceived as less stable than Oracle, and even less than MySQL. It will take time to dispel this (if untrue).
      • Oracle's strong points over PG:
        - advanced SQL (cubes, trees, etc)


        If by "advanced", you mean "nonstandard and proprietary". I'll admit, I do like Oracle's START WITH/CONNECT BY extensions for navigating a results set as a tree, but woe to the developer who later has to port an application that relies on them to another RDBMS that only implements the SQL92 standard dialect.

      • Oracle's strong points over PG: - speed - mutli-way replication - multi-node clusters - advanced SQL (cubes, trees, etc) - finer details of physical data layout (cluster tables, partitioned tables, etc) - stability (unless you use the bleeding edge, which is brittle, alas)

        A couple of these are mutually exclusive, in my opinion, namely clustering and stability. At least if you're using an Oracle-only setup, such as OCS/ASM. To really get clustered stability out of Oracle you really need a third part


        • To really get clustered stability out of Oracle you really need a third party clustered filesystem.

          What exactly do you envision as a stable Oracle cluster? Specifically, what is the host OS, and what is the third-party clustered filesystem for that OS?

          Thanks!

    • What is Postgresql missing that Oracle has?

      I'll tell you one thing: window functions [savage.net.au]. They're useful for reducing the number of subqueries you have to use in certain situations useful in reporting, among other things. You can find a number of good examples of the use of window functions in Anthony Molinaro's SQL Cookbook [oreilly.com].

    • Disclaimer. I'm a not-so-happy Oracle person for almost 10 years, and I've never used PostgreSQL, but have used MySQL, etc. I've never used Oracle in a setting where Oracle was necessary. The DBs were small, and Oracle was way more of a pain in the ass, but with University site licenses, it cost us the same as anything else.

      FWIK, Oracle gives you speed and scalability over PostgreSQL. It also gives you a better pool of DBAs to pick from. Sure a pimply HS dropout _might_ know everything there is about P
    • shilad:

      What is Postgresql missing that Oracle has? What does Oracle have that Postgres is missing?

      Er.... :-)

      Most of the other responses have covered what I presume you meant to ask :) pretty well, but there's one feature of PostgreSQL that I particularly like (and didn't see mentioned) - the range of stored-procedure programming languages [wikipedia.org] available. The choices include PL/PgSQL, PL/Java, PL/Perl, plPHP, PL/Python, PL/R (I used this in one project solely for its handy median function), PL/Ruby, PL/sh,

  • Lies.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:19PM (#14964528) Journal
    Though Ellison claims that the DB business will grow in double digits over the next few years, it seems that more companies are switching to open source rather than paying Oracle $40,000 a processor.

    Do we have to stoop to this to make our point?

    You can get Oracle server for as cheap as $150 per named user, with a three user minimum last I checked. This is perfect for many small business applications. And there are pricing schemes that gradually go up from there depending on the situation.

    There are many great open source databases ( I use SQLite extensively ), but the commercial vendors still bring a lot to the table, and sometimes are even the best choice all things considered ( gasp! )

    • I don't get around much, but what tiny businesses need Oracle? Are there some very common apps that require it? If so, they will probably try to do themselves a favor and start working with as many different databases as possible. [joelonsoftware.com]

      As for Oracle vs. free databases, the world is mostly like, and will continue to become even more like, the trucking industry. There are zillions of people with pickup trucks and zillions of companies with big rigs. There is very little overlap in their use. Both segments continue
      • Any business that cares about it's data.

        Now this criteria doesn't limit you merely to Oracle. It can include db2 or mssql. However, the point is that you don't buy Oracle for speed or features, you buy it to protect your data. If you have an app that is so small that you can run it on the $150/per user version of Oracle then you probably don't need the high powered DBA either.

        Oracle doesn't require 60K per cpu or the 150K primadonna.

        Although it can certainly scale up to apps that would require both.
    • Do we have to stoop to this to make our point?

      Slashdot: Where if MS or SCO does it, it's FUD, but if we do it, it's insightful commentary.
    • If you are happy to depend on a piece of proprietary software with a strong lock-in, yes, it may have advantages.

      But don't forget that the one selling you software will take advantage of the lock-in latter.

  • There are other Databases out there other then the open souce ones that compete with Oracle. Like Microsoft SQL Server, which is much cheaper then Oracle too, well almost anything is cheaper then Oracle, It may not be comparible to Oracle but most companies don't need that much power for them databases sizes in the 100 thousands are large databases for them and MS SQL works for them, plus it integrates with their Windows apps a little easier. I am not saying the Open Source alternatives are better or wors
  • The only companies who can afford $40k a processor are very large companies. How many very large companies have been popping up lately? No wonder the growth of their DB business is slow.
    • You are correct, there are relatively few companies who can afford to drop $40k per CPU on Oracle licenses. Of course, if you're buying Oracle Enterprise you'll also most likely be running the database on some pretty powerful, clustered, SMP machines, which just drives the costs up even higher. And you'd be retarded to buy that many Oracle licenses with no support contract, and the Gold contract is the minimum for getting any useful support from Oracle (last time I bought licenses, anyway). So you're loo
  • Oracle should take care...! Why? Because OSS databases are improving by the day. Time will come when there will not be a compelling reason to pay those outrageous prices for databases.

    I wonder what the situation would be if the likes of MySQL, PostGreSQL and other OSS DBs were not around. I guess Microsoft and IBM would be laughing their way to the bank every year.

  • Other than commercial support, is there any reason to use Oracle over MySQL?
    • Re:mysql (Score:3, Informative)

      by networkBoy (774728)
      Yes.
      MySQL will fall flat on its face far sooner than Oracle will. If your DB is tens to hundreds of terabytes, with gig and larger entries (think VLSI design here) then MySQL will not hold up (well). That said there are other OSS db's that will hold up better, though they are slower.
      -nB
      • If your DB is tens to hundreds of terabytes, with gig and larger entries (think VLSI design here) then MySQL will not hold up (well).

        A filesystem is a DB. Why in the world do you need 1 gig VLSI entries in a DB? Can you search on that?

        I'm VLSI ignorant. I just know it exists and its for chip design, but what is having 1 gig entries in a DB going to give you over just putting it on a disk somewhere will not, and have a DB with keywords or something to point you to the file?

        To me, 1 gig VLSI datafields se
        • Most chip design is stored as VHDL. This code is indexable and searchable, which makes it highly reusable.
          The last part I worked on contained about 5% new code and 95% re-use. Need an array of SRAMS for register memory, search array, register, SRAM and see what comes up. Really quite cool.
          The actual layout AFAIK is stored on disk as it is really a bunch of high res TIFFs or such.
          -nB
    • Sure, if as an application developer you have an intense love of PAIN.

      Believe me... I know. We have an application that supports both MySQL and Oracle. The Oracle side of development just leaves me wondering how the company became so successful with the junk it calls a DB server and API libraries, along with a hint of wanting to firebomb the corporate office that happens to be just up the road.
    • Other than commercial support, is there any reason to choose a Cadillac over a Yugo?

      ROFLMAO!!!!
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:26PM (#14964570) Homepage
    This is one of the areas where I think that Open Source can really shine, and it's interesting to see how the mindshare of Open Source database software is growing.

    When you look at software purchasing patterns, it seems that most software purchases are driven by four things: cost, features, familiarity, and "safety." Open Source software usually competes strongly on the first, moderately well on the second, and not so well on the third and fourth. Asking DBAs to use something they're not familiar with means that they're going to be working slower and harder--not the choice that most people make. In addition, the "nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM" syndrome sometimes prevents Open Source choices from getting a fair shake. But it appears that Open Source tools are starting to compete on those last two fronts as well.

    A lot of geeks like to fiddle around with software on their own, and the "free" part of Open Source plays right to this. After all, are you going to pay for a Microsoft Sequel Server license, or try out MySQL when you're doing something for your own satisfaction? I'm a good example of something similar: I wanted some dynamic Web pages, but I didn't want to pay for ASP support through my ISP. So instead I started looking into PHP and eventually wound up using PHP to handle the dynamic content.

    Once people involved in making decisions (not perhaps the decision-makers themselves, but people with input) start using Open Source for themselves, a lot of the "I don't know it so it's harder and slower" goes right out the window. Sure your average CRM developer might not be making the decision, but if they're asked about DB support and they know PostgreSQL because that's what they used to build their roll-your-own blog, they may offer that as an option.

    As Open Source comes into use in the market, that helps alleviate the "safety" factor, too. When you can point to a large organization that's successfully running enterprise-grade applications on Open Source, it's easier for the decision makers to rationalize choosing an Open Source solution.
  • $40K/CPU is BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloobamator (939353) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:27PM (#14964576)
    $40K/CPU is full-boat retail. Anyone who pays full retail for Oracle licenses gets what they deserve. With only a little negotiation, you can get Oracle to come down 45% off retail. Or go to some vendor like CDW (I do not work for CDW), and they'll get you a nice discount.

    And if you're negotiating with Oracle directly, something I do not recommend, then all you have to do is mention mySQL or PostgreSQL, and Oracle will drop their prices.

    • Re:$40K/CPU is BS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iggymanz (596061)
      about 30% off retail is more typical, even so, you're saying $18,000 a processor is a deal for something that takes all kinds of patches to make seemingly stable for a particular system? Something that needs 3rd party software to make shared databases or clusters that aren't a nightmare to admin (and even more humourous is that Oracle salesforce is aggresively trying to steer away customers from these 3rd party products that give them some hope of stability and sane admin, to using Oracle's own amateurish
    • Don't shout about 40k per proc - that's for the enterprise licenses... and ONLY on large boxen.

      The "free" edition is that - free with a machine size/data volume limit.
      The "Standard Edition One" is prolly the most compelling - $5k per proc LIST. Can only run on Dual proc boxen and can't cluster. Has ALL the features of enterprise besides that.

      There is another edition in between that allows bigger boxen and clustering but misses out on some of the uber fancy stuff in enterprise (which, while cool - isn't st
    • $40K/CPU is full-boat retail.

      If Oracle doesn't want to come off looking bad in these types of cost comparisons, they should stop telling people that their product costs $40K/CPU. Who else can be blamed for the perception that Oracle costs that much -- besides Oracle themselves?

    • And if you're negotiating with Oracle directly, something I do not recommend, then all you have to do is mention mySQL or PostgreSQL, and Oracle will drop their prices.

      If I worked for Oracle, and I was negotiating a price with a customer that brought up MySQL, then I would assume it was my job to get whatever money I could out of the person and then quickly leave.

      If someone cannot decide whether a free DB with little to no data integrity assurance vs a potential $40k/CPU licensed DB is the right tool for th
  • nitpicking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pixelated77 (472348) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:27PM (#14964580)
    Sure, Oracle Enterprise has a $40k per CPU listing price, but let's be realistic. NOBODY pays $40k a CPU and maintenance and services. Not that I'm defending Oracle or their draconian pricing model, but in the end, Oracle can provide close to turn-key solutions when it comes to providing the product, escalating problems to engineering, custom solutions, consulting, deployment, implementation, long-term support. Combine that with Oracle's impressive feature list and the fact that most of the money that a company will spend on their database IT will NOT be DBMS licensing fees and you can see why upper management will spend thousands of dollars on a feature set that might very well be served by an open-source solution.

    I am sure that there are many consulting firms that can mimick this kind of turn-key solution using PostgreSQL, but I'm not sure that they are as established--that is, give the CEO of XYZ company the warm & fuzzy that they require when they're about to undertake a multi-million dollar project whose backbone has to be a rock-solid DBMS.

    It would be fabulous if Vault 10 IT consulting firms could provide this level of service using open source but that's just not the case Right Now(tm).
  • by Saggi (462624) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:32PM (#14964614) Homepage
    Basically a database is only used to keep data. Sometimes the data is vital to the business other times it is not. Databases move toward becoming more and more a commodity, just like everything else. It's a market where it's difficult to difference yourself.

    Oracle is a very good database, no doubt about that, but what is the need of the business? As hardware becomes less and less expensive the performance and stability of the database becomes less of a differentiator.

    It is true the market for databases is growing, but it is not the high-end database market. Especially now that the definition of high-end is moved up by the availability of less expensive hardware. It is better to spend money on good hardware, backup and storage, rather than on the database license.

    So why by an oracle database? Only if you need the really high end performance of your database, that outranks the affordable hardware, you'll need to look at products like oracle.
  • A lot of companies, mine included, use many different databases because some vendor software requires different things. We run IBM's DB2, Oracle, MySQL and MS SQL Server (I think we even have Sybase somewhere...). Most big companies are like that and it's very hard to standardize with a single database platform given the vast amounts of software a large company maintains.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    WE recently have asked a vendor to see if they can change their product from SQL2000 to postgreSQL or MySQL as the $12,000.00 per processor license we pay for SQL2000Enterprise is more than it would be to hire a OSS DB admin that only takes care of the Database server and then still save 30% after paying someone full time plus benefits.

    Many companies are done with the high ticket low support even on low end hardware such as a 4 processor 16 gigabyte SQL server. we are forced to Enterprise if we want to use
  • For that sort of money you can use OSS and hire a well trained support dude.

    Man thats expensive. Tho i hear Microsoft SQL2005 will be approaching the same ( silly ) cost levels.
  • One Example? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:47PM (#14964759)
    So Oracle is losing business to open source alternatives because one part of one company is switching to EnterpriseDB and because of an anecdotal quote?

    Wow. Spare me the spin.

    Isn't it also possible that the far cheaper closed source alternatives [sqlpass.org] are getting a little business [com.com] as well?

    Oracle has always been pricey, but for a long time their DB features were hard to beat. Competitors, both closed and open, and finally getting to the point where they are on all levels with Oracle. [gartner.com]
  • by darylb (10898) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:50PM (#14964795)

    $40k per processor is "list price". In reality, there are other options, such as Kunta Kinte [slashdot.org] points out.

    Further, the kinds of companies that have huge investments in data centers (Oracle's primary target) negotiate volume contracts with Oracle. These contracts push that $40k sticker price way way way down. (Previous employer paid under $20k for a typical Oracle server license, unlimited users, no time limits.)

    Considering that these companies really need their data, and have hundreds of applications (not all of them even cataloged) already written to use Oracle, this money is just basic business expense.

  • by Belgarath52 (121024) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @12:54PM (#14964830) Homepage
    Look - I'm as much an open source fan as anyone, but the fact is that the $40,000 figure is misleading. Oracle's so-called Standard Edition One is basically the full thing - it just can't do clustering, and can't do more than two processors.

    I'm sure someone will point out another nitpick that it can't do, but the practical fact is that you can buy Standard Edition One for $5000/processor and get a fully functional database.

    For the price-aware, you can even buy a 1, 2, or 3 year license for something like $2-3K.

    And, no, Oracle isn't paying me to shill for them. I just work for a company that uses Oracle, and I hate to see the "Oracle costs $40,000" meme repeated here.
  • Tin Foil Hat Warning (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arclyte (961404)
    I think it was a Playboy interview with Ellison in which he mentioned that he was all for a national ID system. I couldn't help but think then that he was for it because a) he is uber-rich so privacy concerns don't bother him, and b) it would create HUGE gov't contracts for high end database firms... like his. Now, there are plans to create a nationwide database system for tracking IDs, and Ellison is saying their business is going to expand in the next few years... maybe I'm just grasping at straws here,
  • by CatOne (655161) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:17PM (#14965011)
    Oracle has a couple initiatives going on... RAC and ASM. Here's about how it works (these are BROAD numbers, mind you).

    6 years ago, before the .com crash, your average back-end IT infrastructure had a few main pieces:

    Cisco networking gear. Sun servers. EMC disks. Oracle database.

    So you paid a few mil for the network. A few mil for the servers. A few mil for the EMC disks. And a mil or two for Oracle at $10K/cpu (list)

    NOW, Oracle says "we have 10g RAC, use us to replicate across CPUs. Don't pay $3M + $1M/year for Sun support... buy a rack of Linux servers (or blades) and hardware costs $250K versus $3M... support is nearly free because if a machine fails, just pull it from the rack, throw it in the trash, and swap a new one in there.'

    And lo, they promoted "Linux is unbreakable" and charged an extra $10K/cpu for this service. Total end cost to customer is LESS than the old solution, and it's way FASTER.

    Then, they have another initiative... use ASM and the low-cost storage initiative... use the database to span multiple disks, and handle all the replication/redundancy. Don't pay EMC $3M + $1M/year for Symmetrix support. Put it on lower cost gear (Clariion, Nexsan ATAboy, or *gasp* Apple Xserve RAID even). Spindle speeds are slower, so you buy 2x as many spindles and get the same IOPS. Hey, you save a couple million and pay more per CPU (say $40K/cpu list) for the whole shootin' match.

    So your cost goes from (again, broad numbers)

    $2M Cisco + $3M Sun + $3M EMC + $2M Oracle = $10M + maintenance

    to:

    $2M Cisco + $500K Dell + $500K Dell or Apple + $4M Oracle = $7M + maintenance

    You save $3M a year! Of course Oracle gets a bigger cut. But it's "win-win."

    Of course, there is the one subtlety here -- you are now using Oracle's RAC and ASM so you can use cheap hardware and storage. This stuff is totally proprietary, so if Oracle comes back come renewal time and doubles your per-CPU cost for the software, it's a helluva lot harder to rip it out than just porting stored-procedure code.
  • Oracle $40,000 a processor

    SQL Server 2005 enterprize is 26000 and Standard is 6000. Now I know it is not as good as Oracle for huge volume databases. But if a company wants a commercial DB Oracle really has priced themselves too high for most uses. I think DB2 and Sybase are cheaper as well but I don't know the exact pricing.
  • I would never use Oracle again.

    They discontinued OraclePowerObjects just as I lauched a product based on it, and they discontinued OS/2 support just after I launched a product based on it.

    Never again would I run mission critical stuff on proprietry software!

    If I wanted to put my head in a lion's mouth, I would have worked in a circus!

    Larry Ellison: You do not get customers by smacking people round the face with a wet fish!

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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