IBM will challenge Oracle with a new database licensing scheme that allows unlimited Internet access.
The scheme overcomes limitations in Big Blue's current DB2 licensing which could theoretically see ecommerce ventures having to buy database client licenses for each of the millions of visitors to their website.
"I think this is a very positive move. It's the way licensing has to go and shows a strong commitment on the part of IBM to ebusiness and DB2," said David Burman, research director at analyst the Butler Group.
IBM announced the licensing scheme at its DB2 user conference in Orlando last week, and is expected to make an official launch on 30 July.
Big Blue joins other database vendors such as Microsoft, Sybase and Informix in rejecting 'per user' licensing, leaving Oracle as the only major database vendor to continue with per user pricing.
"The reason vendors have adopted a flexible model is to take market share," said Mark Raphael, program manager at researcher Meta Group.
"Clarity is not always in Oracle's interest. In licensing negotiations, users should not accept Oracle's standard terms and conditions and certainly use IBM, Microsoft and Sybase as a leverage," Raphael said.
Mike Blake, IBM data marketing consultant, said IBM would not make extra money from the changes, but conceded that there would be "winners and losers".
So far, Oracle has refused to say whether or not it will adopt a simpler model.
In a recent survey by Oracle's UK User Group, 56 per cent of respondents said Oracle licensing is "unfair", while 54 per cent feel it offers poor value for money.
But respondents seemed confused about how they would like Oracle's licensing to change. Although 74 per cent felt the licence scheme should change across the range of Oracle software, 63 per cent favoured sticking with the concurrent user pricing model for products such as Oracle 8i and Oracle Application Server. Only 16 per cent wanted meter based pricing.
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