Oracle just released the new version of Oracle Database Express Edition (XE), a free edition of Oracle Database. This release means something special to me, as I have been closely involved in it and with the great team that brought us Oracle Database 18c XE.
It has been 7 years since its predecessor, Oracle Database 11g XE, was released on the 24th of September 2011. A lot of things have changed between then and now. Certainly the world looks a lot different today than it did back then. Cloud wasn’t much of a thing yet. Big Data was just about to become the next great thing that was supposed to make relational databases redundant (didn’t quite work out, sorry guys 🙂 ), and everybody was still building their apps in a what is now known as monolithic approach. The change of the status quo meant that it was time for XE to change as well. Originally, XE was designed to be a small footprint and quick to install Oracle Database. This was back in 2005, 13 years ago by now, when the very first Oracle XE, Oracle Database 10g XE, came out. Back then laptops and home computers were by far not as powerful as today. The world had just seen the very first dual-core processors in May 2005 (Intel Pentium D and AMD Athlon64 X2), and fast broadband internet access was far from being common around the world. These days, people have laptops with quad-core processors and 8GB RAM or more. Internet speed, although not everywhere, but around most of the world, is not an issue anymore. The decision made back then to provide a small footprint database came with the trade-off that a lot of functionality had to be removed, in order to keep the download and installation size small, and the resource consumption within the limits of personal computers of that time. What was left was practically an ISO SQL standard compliant database with a PL/SQL engine, but without many of the other great features that make the Oracle Database the best database on the planet.
When we took on the new 18c XE project, a few of us believed that in 2017 it was time for XE to change as well. Laptops have become more than powerful enough to run a full-featured Oracle Database and internet speed has gone up that high, that people stream GBs of movies over the web without even thinking about it. So we had an idea, the idea that the new Oracle XE should be a fully capable, free to use but resource limited, single instance Enterprise Edition. People should just be able to experience the power of the Oracle Database. Of course, with change also comes the legitimate question as to why change and whether we are doing the right thing. But rather than just making a decision that everybody has to live by, we decided to ask the communities for their feedback. After all, Oracle Database XE is meant for everyone, so why not just simply ask everyone what they want? So we did, and the feedback reassured us that we were on the right track.
And this is where we are today. The new Oracle Database 18c XE is an almost full-featured Oracle Database with the resource limits increased to 2 CPUs for SQL execution, 2GB of RAM, and 12 GB of user data on disk. Long longed-for features such as Partitioning, Advanced Compression, Spatial and Graph, Advanced Analytics, In-Memory Columnar Store, Multitenant, JSON support, and the list goes on, are all available now to users, who can learn to use and build great applications with them, for free. I truly believe that this is a big step towards the right direction and I am proud that we managed to make all of this happen. There is only one last thing to say:
I would like to thank everybody that has been part of this release, from the Oracle development teams all the way to the communities, which have always shown great enthusiasm for XE and provided lots of constructive feedback! Thanks everybody, I hope you all will enjoy this release of Oracle Database Express Edition as much as I do!
Check out oracle.com/xe for more information.