Computerworld

Ellison finesses Oracle 9i pricing

Oracle Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison touted Wednesday the clustering feature of the company's new Oracle 9i database, saying it allows users to increase performance and reduce cost by adding additional computers. But he shied away from mentioning the additional charge for the feature, known as Real Application Clusters.

The clustering feature makes 9i faster and more fail-safe than previous versions and competitors' products, Ellison said.

"From an architectural standpoint, using multiple computers is a much better idea than using one big computer," he said. "If you need more capacity, you just add more machines. If one machine fails because of a hardware or software failure, the system keeps running, just a little bit more slowly." His remarks, at the Oracle OpenWorld conference here, were carried live via Webcast.

Ellison said the new release is the first database capable of running enterprise software from SAP AG on multiple computers. "No one has been able to do that before." He added that 9i also will run, on multiple computers, applications from PeopleSoft Inc., Siebel Systems Inc., or "any application you wrote, any Oracle application. This is a very big deal."

The clustering feature also saves money by allowing the database to run on inexpensive hardware running the Unix or Windows operating systems, he added. "It's really quite astonishing; we make Windows reliable. We're the first to do that," he said, drawing laughter and applause from the audience.

Ellison complained that IBM Corp. has claimed, in marketing letters, that its own DB2 product is less expensive than Oracle 9i. "In fact, Oracle includes lots of features inside its database that IBM charges for separately," he said, making Oracle a better value.

Citing two examples, he said, "Their OLAP (online analytical processing) product costs more than twice what Oracle's OLAP costs, and ours is integrated with the database, and theirs isn't. Their data mining product costs more than three times what ours does."

But he neglected to mention the price tag attached to each of the Oracle features.

The three new options, Oracle9i Real Application Clusters, Oracle9i OLAP, and Oracle9i Data Mining, are each available for an additional charge of US$20,000 per processor, according to a spokeswoman at Oracle's U.S. headquarters. The charges are on top of the basic price of $40,000 per processor for Oracle 9i Enterprise Edition.

IBM's DB2 UDB Enterprise Edition Version 7.2 is priced at $20,000 per processor; the company's DB2 Intelligent Miner Scoring is priced at $15,000 per processor; and Virtual Warehouse OLAP costs $15,350, according to information on the company's Web site.

Oracle has said its new pricing scheme, with a fixed charge per processor, is designed to allow easier comparison of its prices with those of IBM.

(James Niccolai in San Francisco contributed to this report.)