Oracle Database 23c Free For Developers. How Free?
Written by Nikos Vaggalis
Tuesday, 13 June 2023
Until now getting hold of a free Oracle database was a struggle - requiring account registration, negotiating pages full of legalese and safeguarded downloading bays. Does this "Free For Developers" product change that, or is it a rebranding of Oracle XE to make its use case clearer.
Like Microsoft turning to open source, this is another instance of a proprietary giant opening up. How much of an opening? Let's find out. As with Microsoft, competition must have played its role here too. Oracle must change in order to attract the elusive devs en masse, who would otherwise flock to free and quality counterparts like PostgreSQL or even SQL Server, the Linux version.
With that out of the way, let's focus on the properties of version 23c, mainly document database-oriented ones.
JSON Relational Duality Developers can build applications in either relational or JSON paradigms with a single source of truth and benefit from the strengths of both, relational and document models. On that feature Graeme Rocher, Co-founder and Director of the Micronaut Foundation commented :
"The Micronaut team has already adopted Oracle Database 23c and is excited about the possibilities the new JSON Relational Duality views feature opens up. The ability to selectively treat data as JSON or relational while maintaining the power of SQL is fantastic. We are working on exciting innovations coming to Micronaut Data JDBC that simplify application development further with Oracle Database 23c. "
It's not a secret that the big corps are looking to combine their products with Java, which is going through a rejuvenation from version 17 onwards.
Other features finding their way in are:
SQL Domains, which bring domain knowledge closer to the data by describing the intended use of data centrally and ensuring data is handled consistently across applications.
Annotations for common data model attributes like tables, columns, views, indexes, and more, providing a central, lightweight, declarative facility to register and exchange usage properties across apps.
Oracle Kafka APIs Kafka applications can now run against Oracle Database Transactional Event Queues with minimal code changes enabling much more robust microservices built using transactional events that perform event operations and database changes in a single atomic transaction.
JSON Schemas Use industry-standard JSON Schemas to ensure only valid data is inserted into a JSON column.
Property Graphs Find and analyze relationships, predict trends, and discover lightning-fast insights using database-native property graphs views. Use new SQL-standard property graph queries to run graph analytics on top of relational and JSON data.
23c is available as Container Image, VirtualBox VM, and Linux RPM installation file, and is currently available only for Linux. Hardware wise it can support up to:
2 CPUs for foreground processes 2GB of RAM (SGA and PGA combined) 12GB of user data on disk (irrespective of compression factor)
While "free" may sound appealing, looking into the offers reveals some caveats:
There is no support
Patches will not be released for Oracle Database Free, including security patches. To obtain patches you must be on a fully supported edition, such as Oracle Database Enterprise Edition or Oracle Database Standard Edition 2.
And while it can be used in production :
Oracle recommends running production deployments on fully supported Oracle Database editions or cloud services.
Also the standard free edition has some components missing like:
Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio
Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS)
Oracle SQL Developer
You can, however, download them separately and use them with Oracle Database 23c Free. A full list of what is or is not included into the free version can be found here.
So where does that leave us? Oracle has been and surely still is a state of the art DBMS. The attempt is now to open up beyond the Fortune 500 corporations harboring it and to be considered as a viable alternative everywhere, in any kind of environment. So while Version 23c free edition is a step to the right direction, it comes with limitations and as such merely acts as a try-before-you-buy the pro editions, by allowing devs to preview and test bench the forthcoming features that will end up in the Enterprise editions.
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