Oracle database customers in the US might be getting retroactive price cuts but New Zealand customers aren’t so lucky. Bowing to criticism from users and analysts, Oracle has changed its database-pricing model, coinciding with the launch of its latest database release, Oracle9i. For the past year Oracle has used a capacity-based licensing model built around a system performance measure called the Universal Power Unit (UPU). Now it has reverted to a per processor model to make it easier to compare pricing with rival database companies IBM and Microsoft. Prices are expected to be cheaper using this model. The enterprise edition of 9i, which was launched on June 15, will be priced at $US40,000 a processor, while the standard edition will cost $US15,000 a CPU. Users in the US who are paying for software based on the UPU will be given a standard formula to help them retroactively convert from power units to the new pricing structure. However, local users won’t have any such luck. Oracle New Zealand has no plans to introduce the retroactive measures here. IBM's DB2 universal database enterprise edition is $US20,000 a CPU but Oracle says it provides more bang for the buck by bundling functions such as a full set of OLAP (online analytical processing) tools in its enterprise edition. Oracle has also introduced a subscription option, paid annually, which is 15% of the perpetual licence fee. But where Oracle is really tackling the economy issue is clustering. Oracle9i is able to run on clusters of Unix or Windows machines. “For the first time you can take any application and put it into a clustered environment. The key thing is you don’t have to make any changes to the application,” says Oracle New Zealand spokesman Burke Kelly. According to the database company, clustering provides dramatically improved price-performance, as demonstrated by the following hardware costs of non-clustered and clustered servers: Two Sun E10000s (64 CPUs at 450MHz, 64GB) cost $US5.m 32 Sun E420Rs (4 CPUs at 450MHz, 4GB) cost $US1.5m 32 Compaq DL580s (4 CPUs at 750MHz, 4GB) cost $US1m Burke says Oracle uses its in-house developed cache fusion technology, which extracts 90% more performance from each CPU added to a cluster.