DB on tap: As affordable as it gets

Taking the ASP hosting business by its horns, Oracle Singapore has signed i-STT as a distribution partner for its Enterprise Edition Database with the Virtual Private DB feature at its core.

Serving a database to customers in the ASP model is a clever extension of the pay-as-you-use business.

In the ASP model, end users lease applications to run their business without paying a huge investment upfront for the software license or equipment but the ASP provider foots the bill for database and infrastructure.

What do you think of DB-on-Tap? YES By leasing a database for their use, ASP providers can turn to a hosting partner who will not only foot the full software licence, but also connect and maintain the applications’ links to their customers.

Rent or rant
It is a given that software developers have a lot of ideas and like to create new sexy applications, but not many have the resources nor the interest to maintain the application.

Taking the hosting business by its horns, Oracle Singapore has signed i-STT as a distribution partner for its Enterprise Edition Database with the Virtual Private DB feature at its core. This is a classic case of why sweat it when you can let others do a better job?

Operating as a hosting partner, i-STT will run Oracle’s DB like a metered utility service provider for DB-on-Tap where customers pay as they use.

The virtual database concept is not new though. Virtual DB 3.0 from Enterworks can draw data from 70 different sources, including a variety of relational databases, and offer a unified view through a Web browser.

In this case, Virtual Private DB affords Oracle Enterprise Edition to ASPs and ISVs to manage multiple file systems via a centralized console, and hopefully the economy-of-scale cost savings will be passed down to end users. This will only happen when ISVs re-architect their code from one-user image to groups of thousands of users.

“We expect some of our existing ASP and ISV partners to convert to our iHost program to better serve their customers,” said Tan Hoon Juay, Director of Business Development at Oracle Singapore.

“In a nutshell, the ASP provider allocates a separate database for each customer. The applications written is Web-enabled so that you can access the data using standard web browsers,” said Andy Tan, Intrinix Networks’ director of eBusiness Development.

“The servers that host these applications and databases can be located in a data centre like i-STT. The leasing scheme becomes easier because you get better control and support. Companies can opt to develop their own web applications and make use of the leased DB system for data storage and management," Andy added.

On its part, i-STT is not new to hosting software either, having signed Onyx to offer CRM-on demand last year and also with Microsoft to deliver its applications to Singapore customers under its .NET business strategy.

Under DB-on-Tap, customers need not go to Oracle for software licensing nor is there any one-time licence charge - it will all be based on actual usage. If necessary, you can also get specialized database administration, monitoring, backup, and storage to ensure your businesses stay uninterrupted. Its best value proposition is that it will relieve companies of hardware ownership but not their intellectual property.

It’s not about cheaper software
When asked to comment on recent reports on lower TCO of IBM’s DB2 over 8i , Oracle’s Hoon Juay explained that this initiative is not about cheaper software.

“The proof of our products are shown by our installed base and we believe this new delivery concept will prove to be acceptable to our new and esteemed customers.”

DB-on-Tap requires a one-time set up fee and a monthly subscription that ranges from a low S$2,000 (US$1,176) to a high of S$10,000 (US$5,880), depending on the type and number of CPUs, speed of processor, and number of servers.

This pricing model is not unlike those announced by Microsoft for .NET last year where a marginal cost of 5-10 percent over their existing service package costs will be charged to customers who convert from owning and running their own hardware and software to leasing it either over the Internet or via a private IP network from a third-party data center.

“With i-STT as a host, there is the added assurance of no security leakage – physical or logical – and just like a power utility provider, there is only one neck to choke if it fails - ours,” offered the rotund Wong Ka Vin, i-STT’s chief marketing officer.

It has been reported that competitors like IBM DB2's pricing structure offers a straightforward per-processor pricing model, while Oracle charges licence fees for unlimited users, does not distinguish between full time and occasional users, and enforces a minimum per user policy. If this sounds like a premise for the launch of DB-on-Tap, you better believe it that this is as affordable as it gets.