How can something that is already free be cheaper? I will get to that in a minute. DB2 Express-C is IBM’s way of offering a full function commercial grade database management system using “open source business model”. DB2 is not open source i.e. you will not be able to go to SourceForge download source and hack database kernel code. What you can do though is get DB2 Express-C without paying any money and use it any which way you like including in your production applications for as long as you wish. In other words, you get the product for free and you can use it to learn relational and XML database technology, build app
lications, and then put these applications in to production or even embed it in your commercial product all without paying IBM or anyone else any money. It is the same DB2 that big companies use to run their most important applications. There are other “free” commercial databases like Microsoft SQL Server Express and Oracle XE but unlike DB2 Express-C these are not all that great for production use as they place a hard limit as to how much data you can manage (4GB). DB2 Express-C has no such limits … as long as you are willing to give it more disk storage it will manage more and more data. If you are still not convinced, check out http://www.ibm.com/db2/express.
So, has IBM gone all altruistic and is just giving away its crown jewels? No, not really. IBM is just following the open source model of providing the product itself for free and then offering support and extra features for a fee. Aha, so support and extra features must cost a small fortune, right? Nope, DB2 Express-C support and extra features are actually priced exactly the same way as MySQL Enterprise Gold i.e. $2,295 per server per year. (MySQL is actually $4 more at $2,999/server/year). For this kind of money you will get 24*7 technical support in the language that you speak (yes, even English 🙂 ) pretty much any place in the world. You also get ability to leverage more hardware resources, high availability clustering and off-site disaster recovery (HADR), and data replication.
OK, so where is the cheaper part? Last year the price for DB2 Express-C 12 month license and subscription was priced at $2,995. On January 1, 2008 the price went up to $3,080 so DB2 Express-C became $81 more expensive than MySQL. That is not a lot of money but it is a matter of principal. So, we asked IBM pricers and they rolled the price back to $2,995. The ballance in the universe has been restored 🙂
Here is the price at http://ibm.com/db2/express