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MySQL bites Oracle before Oracle bites it

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In a pre-emptive strike against Oracle, database vendor MySQL has launched its first site-wide license and support package, pricing it the same as a single Oracle CPU database license.

MySQL Enterprise Unlimited costs $40,000 and beefs up earlier support by throwing in 100 hours of free consultative" support plus monthly updates and service packs. An Oracle Enterprise Edition processor license also costs $40,000, with software update and licensing and support starting at $8,800.

MySQL says it is targeting users of Oracle, Microsoft, Sybase and IBM enterprise databases, but the pricing and timing clearly singles out Oracle. The launch comes amid reports that Oracle is prepping a low-priced MySQL support service, undercutting the giant's smaller competitor, and modeled on Oracle's Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN), which seeks to undermine Red Hat.

About one third of Oracle customers run MySQL, and MySQL is likely trying to court Oracle customers as much as it is trying to stem defections if, or when, Oracle should launch its MySQL service.

As well as competing on price, Oracle - like Sun Microsystems - is wooing customers of open source infrastructure software with the convenience of consolidating different support and maintenance offerings. Oracle was unavailable at the time of going to press.

As with most enterprise product licensing and support deals, there is more to MySQL's offer than just the list price. MySQL encourages customers to contact sales people for further details, potentially giving sales teams room to work out volume discounts.

So far as MySQL is concerned, it has the most to gain - and less potential business to lose - by converting small and mid-market customers that would subscribe to its current "silver" MySQL server support package. Silver, priced at $1,995 per server per year, gives serious users decent, business-level support and equates to roughly 20 servers under MySQL Enterprise Unlimited. MySQL's full-service "gold" level offering equates to a mere eight servers.

That means MySQL had better hope - for the sake of premium-level growth - that it doesn't get too many gold users to switch, and sees more uptake among customers who would have - in a world without MySQL Enterprise Unlimited - gone silver. ®

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