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Oracle hikes middleware license fees

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Oracle customers are starting to pay the price for its $23bn plus acquisition spree, with licensing hikes across all core middleware products.

The database giant is hitting users of its databases and application server software with increases of between 15 per cent and 20 per cent in licensing.

Users of the recently acquired BEA Systems' WebLogic application server that are hit hardest: a WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition processor license is jacked up 47 per cent. Oracle is also introducing new named-user plus pricing for Enterprise and Standard editions.

The increases, detailed in Oracle's latest annual price list, have Wall Street both admiring and questioning the size of Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison's cojones in a tightening economy.

Eric Savitz of TechTrader Daily called the increases an "eye-opening development", a startling admission coming from a title used to covering the machinations of American corporate business life.

Citigroup analyst Brent Thill in a research note on Oracle's change reportedly said Oracle justified the move by saying it had not "installed a price increase of this magnitude 'for many years'."

So what can you expect to pay? You can compare the 2008 and 2007 price lists here and here. As a taster, though: a single WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition processor license costs $25,000 compared to $17,000 under BEA.

A named-user license for WebLogic Server Standard and WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition is $200 and $500 respectively.

The biggest changes to Oracle's existing products are in the database: Standard Edition One is up 20 per cent to $180 per named user and 16 per cent to $5,800 for a single-processor license.

Enterprise Edition is up 18 per cent for both a named-user license and a processor license, which come in at $950 and $47,500 respectively.

There are two bright spots. Oracle's list price acts as more a rule of thumb than final word, and the company is open to negotiation, especially when it comes to dealing with larger organizations.

The downside? As Thill noted: "The company is the first or second leading player in each of the categories in which they play. Two, it has been a long time since it raised prices this much."

Also, don't forget, you can always rip out CPUs.

The other positive note: the price list is the first solid confirmation from Oracle that WebLogic Server and BEA's Tuxedo line have a life under their new owner. The price list does not appear to mention WebLogic Server Express, Workshop and AquaLogic portal from BEA, or Oracle's one Java Edition application server, suggesting they are history.®

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