Much ado about (paying) nothing

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A couple of days ago, we announced some more free goodies to Oracle Cloud. As most readers will know, we already had two free forever database offerings, our Autonomous Data Warehouse and our Autonomous Transaction Processing services.

Smaller services?

Both of these are fully fledged managed databases in their own right, and the new free services we launched a couple of days ago are: Autonomous APEX and Autonomous JSON, both of which offer more targeted specialised services. In terms of database functionality, both these new services offer a subset of the functionality you get with the existing free services.

That might seem odd. Why offer something with less than what is already there?

Social media certainly seemed to think we’d totally lost the plot Smile

“@OracleCloud Can you please tell us why you do this, what’s the point”

“Is there any advantage to provision a JSON or APEX instead of ATP which can do all?”

“It’s a complete marketing fail”

“don’t throw just more confusing Cloud Services at us”

“We have overcome a lot of stupid things in and outside from Oracle”

Why it makes sense

Let me offer my thoughts on why I think these services make sense. I stress – if anyone thinks I have risen to the levels in Oracle Corporation where such decisions are made, then thank you for the flattering assessment, but rest assured I’m still the bottom feeder that I’ve always been Smile so this is totally just speculation on my part.

Here’s why Free APEX and Free JSON makes sense. Up until a couple of days ago, if I just wanted APEX or just wanted JSON, and I wanted to explore those features for free, then I needed to sign up to Free ATP (or ADW). Inside that ATP instance, I can use APEX but also all the other cool tech inside the database. Let’s say I build my APEX prototype and I’m pretty damn excited about how things are going! I go live with a commercial application, watch the revenue start to roll in and lo and behold, I’m on a winner here!

So I’m ready to take the leap and migrate to the paid APEX service, now that my growing app will easily cover the $360 per month fee. But now there’s a risk. What if I have inadvertently been utilising a facility in free ATP that will not be in the paid APEX service? How can I tell?

Because I’m willing to bet that if someone goes from free ATP to paid APEX and some part of their application no longer works, they’ll be all over Twitter claiming they’ve been swindled or caught in a vendor trap etc. And conversely, if to overcome the limitation, they then need to pay the extra cost of paid ATP over paid APEX, they’ll also be all over Twitter claiming they’re being overcharged.

That’s why Free APEX and Free JSON makes sense. They provide a no risk mechanism to migrate to their paid equivalents when your applications gain the momentum to justify the move. Easier for you as a customer with no unexpected surprises when you make the leap.


I know people love their SQL*Net access to ATP databases, which they don’t get with Autonomous APEX. But every day inside Oracle, we have APEX teams building mission-critical applications to support globally deployed with hundreds of thousands of users, and those teams do it without SQL*Net access, just the power of APEX and SQL Developer Web.

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