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Oracle has hiked up the price of MySQL, killing low-priced support options and more than doubling what it charges for the commercial versions of the database.

A MySQL annual subscription on a server will now start at $2,000 for standard support, after Oracle's killed Sun Microsystems' basic and silver packages, which started at $599 and $1,999.

The increase hits startups, small-to-medium businesses, and those on a tight budget hardest.

At the high end, Oracle has introduced a cluster carrier grade edition priced at $10,000. Sun's earlier top-level support package, platinum, was $4,999.

All prices apply to a four-core server. If you have more than five cores per box, Oracle advises you call its MySQL sales team. Prices are on the MySQL site, and they're not part of Oracle's main price list.

Also, while Sun preferred to separate its offerings according to te level of support you'd get, Oracle seems to separate them based on the types of software you get with MySQL - in addition to the level of support service.

Oracle's standard and enterprise packages are similar, but the more you pay, the more features you get.

MySQL Enterprise Monitor, which featured in the silver, gold, and platinum support offerings from Sun, is now held back for the enterprise and cluster carrier grade editions. Also, you'll get MySQL Enterprise Backup.

Oracle has already said that it will integrate these monitoring and management features with the commercial version of the open-source database - meaning the version it controls and sells - and that it won't be making them available to the community code base. Oracle has pledged to otherwise continue MySQL's community development.

The hike, which was anticipated, gives power to skeptics who'd questioned Oracle's motives for buying MySQL and who continue to fear for the future of MySQL.

It will also provide an opportunity for a growing army of MySQL support companies who hope to make a little money from Oracle customers who decide they've tired of being squeezed by Larry.

One such company is start-up SkySQL, supporting MySQL and the MariaDB fork.

Chief executive Ulf Sandberg, former head of MySQL professional services, blogged here in response to the increase. "This price increase further underscores the concerns you may have over Oracle's stewardship of MySQL. Growing big business's bottom line has once again taken precedence over ensuring that MySQL software, services and support is readily accessible to customers that need it. Fortunately, you have an alternative."

Sandberg is offering free support for the remainder of this year to MySQL customers who purchase a 2011 support subscription from his company before December 15, 2010.

SkySQL was formed in June, and it's composed entirely of former MySQL employees. Speaking to The Reg ahead of Oracle's price squeeze, Sandberg said big customers should have no fear in switching to his start up. The company has 20 staff, all ex-MySQLers who served major customers at MySQL and Sun.

Among them are MySQL veteran Kaj Arnö, who resigned in June just days before Sun Microsystems' legal entity was wound up in Germany. Arnö is executive vice president of products, having served in a number of roles at MySQL including establishing training and serving as vice presidents of consulting, services, and engineering.

"We can go back and say to Oracle customers: you trusted us before, it's the same support and consulting team and experts in your field - why not trust us," Sandberg said. ®

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