Have a look at fyracle. This is an Oracle-compatible version of Firebird, which seems to have come of age. The tools to compile PL/SQL etc. cost about €80 a desk and the run-time is free. Reports are good.
I’ve not had a lot of time to look at this but I think it’s definitely a viable alternative if Oracle licences are going to eat your profit. I don’t know if it has an equivalent of mod/plsql but if it did I’d be very interested in it for highly scalable projects that need big servers, for which Oracle like to charge you through the nose. That said; for the moment MySQL will do for my personal projects.
Fyracle doesn’t have the spatial or context extensions, but these could possibly be supported by some other tools and a bridge. Needs looking at; face it – if you’re a small company developing software or running a website that doesn’t make a fortune but needs big iron (which is very cheap if you use eBay) and have to pay Oracle licences it may be a good bludgeon to get Oracle to give you a better discount.
Where I work we are Oracle partners and the price is reasonably sane. Big corporations get good discounts, as do applications users. It’s the small-to-medium independent guys that get it.
Ah well, back to something else.