The general availability of Oracle's long-awaited, next-generation 12c database will likely occur within weeks or possibly even days.

Oracle had previously said the general release would come sometime this calendar year, with no further specifics, leaving the possibility open for a much later launch.

Multiple sources familiar with the situation said it was very likely that the general release could come within a couple of weeks, although one noted that internally at Oracle, release dates can have some movement. It's expected that 12c will offer support for Solaris and Linux deployments first.

Database 12c, which was highlighted extensively at Oracle's OpenWorld conference last year, comes more than three years after the launch of version 11g Release 2.

A concept Oracle calls "pluggable databases" is a major focus of 12c. This allows multiple databases to run within a single database container.

The impending arrival of 12c comes shortly after SAP announced its competing HANA in-memory database platform can now run its flagship ERP (enterprise resource planning) software. Many SAP ERP installations use Oracle under the covers, and SAP is hoping to lure those customers away, gaining the lucrative database licence revenue Oracle now enjoys. It's possible that Oracle will impose a license price increase upon the release of 12c as well. Currently, a processor license for the enterprise edition costs $47,500. It was raised to that amount in 2008.

However, it's also not clear how or if the pluggable database architecture could affect licensing costs or the licensing model itself.