Oracle XE Release Heats Up Free Database Race

databases Oracle 10g XE

Available as a 150-Mbyte download via Oracle's Web site, 10g XE is compatible with the bigger-iron Oracle databases, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company has said.

Like competitive offerings from Microsoft and IBM, 10g XE has hardware and memory constraints. It's designed for use on one-processor machines and handles up to 4 Gbytes of user data and up to 1 Gbyte of memory.

Developers are the target audience for 10g XE, according to Mark Townsend, senior director of database product management at Oracle.

"There are four clear development communities," Townsend said. "For those who use the Java stack, we provide all the JDBC drivers so you can write stored procedures in Java. For the .Net stack, there is a Visual Studio add-on so you can write in CLR [Microsoft's Common Language Runtime]. There are optimized PHP drivers and also a built-in application Express development environment."

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Townsend demurred when asked if the emergence of free or near-free databases--from commercial vendors like IBM and Oracle, along with existing low- or no-cost databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL--signals a complete commoditization of databases.

"Not at all. This is a new area for Oracle," he said. "People associate us with high-end, data warehouse and mission-critical [jobs]. This is basically an opportunity for people to start out early and right-footed [with Oracle technology]."

Townsend said he expects adoption of 10g XE by those who might be using MySQL or Microsoft's low-end MSDE and JET database engines.

Meanwhile rival IBM says partners are flocking to DB2 Express-C. It cited xkoto, a Toronto ISV specializing in load balancing software which has moved one customer from a MySQL-based solution to DB2 Express foundations. The customer is Savvica, a maker of a free learning management system called Nuvvo.

In a statement issued by IBM, Savvica claimed it was able to port Nuvvo and all its relevant data from MySQL to the new DB2 Express in a day.

This story was updated Tuesday morning with more IBM information.