Orale XE: The Free Database from Oracle

The title of this article must have surprised most of you. Oracle has been long known for providing robust industry standard databases. But its huge licensing cost has always been a deterrent for its use for small users such as shopkeepers or small firms. So, how come I have titled this article as free database from Oracle? Read on to find out more.

There has always been a demand for database for all sorts of needs, ranging from small to large. However, the commercial databases that have been available always addressed the needs of big businesses, and were so prohibitively priced that small users could not even think of installing one. This is where the free databases came to rescue. Now, a lot of free databases have been available that small users can use to store data, MySQL being a popular one. For a long time, the big database providers such as Oracle and Microsoft has been completely ignoring these small databases as they didn’t pose any real threat to them. However, now they have started feeling the heat. These free databases have been improving and providing more and more features to their users. Now these databases are not only used by small users, but in some case bigger users also such as retails marts, websites etc.

Oracle has recognized this threat, and has now launched a totally free database for small data storage needs. This is Oracle XE, or Express Edition.

Oracle Database 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE) is an entry-level, small-footprint database based on the Oracle Database 10g Release 2 code base that’s free to develop, deploy, and distribute; fast to download; and simple to administer.

Oracle Database XE is a great starter database for:
? Developers working on PHP, Java, .NET, XML, and Open Source applications

? DBAs who need a free, starter database for training and deployment

? Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and hardware vendors who want a starter database to distribute free of charge

? Educational institutions and students who need a free database for their curriculum

Oracle Database XE can be installed on any host machine with any number of CPUs (one database per machine).

All these things sound too good to be true for a free database, and you must be wondering if this database has all the features then why would one purchase the expensive Oracle version.

Here comes the catch:
1. This database can support only upto 4 GB of user data. This ensures that you can use it only as a starter database, and would have to go with the expensive Oracle database if you have larger data storage needs.

2. It can use only upto 1 GB of memory. This ensures that you cannot use it for some fast computational needs and performance will be limited.

3. It uses only 1 CPU on the host machine. This means that you cannot achieve the huge performance gains offered by traditional Oracle database by using multiple CPUs on servers.

So, what was the rationale of Oracle behind launching this small free database. Oracle has a great business models, and they always come up with ingenious ways to increase their users, or even decrease the users of their competitors ( they started supporting older versions of SAP, the ones that even SAP started supporting!!).

With launch of this free database, Oracle is trying to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. First, they want to discourage the use and popularity of other free databases such as MySQL. And secondly and more importantly, it offers a great business opportunity to them. They want the small users to start with Oracle XE. This would enable users to take a peek into the capabilities and ease of use of databases provided by Oracle. Once users start becoming familiar and comfortable with these, and their storage and computational needs increase, this database would pose a hindrance to them. As a result, they would have to migrate to a full scale Oracle database, and Oracle would successfully manage to increase the client base. Also, limiting the size to 4 GB ensures that their paid users don’t migrate back to the free version.

This is a great start-up database, and easy to download and install. This is much more robust and has far more features than other free databases available around. If your storage needs are low, and you are not looking for lightning fast performance, then go for it. This will provide you all the features of good ole Oracle, without burning a hole in your pocket.

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