February 14, 2006 6:23 AM PST

Oracle snags open-source database company

Oracle said on Tuesday that it acquired open-source database company Sleepycat Software for an undisclosed sum.

The database giant said Sleepycat's open-source Berkeley DB database will complement Oracle's existing line of closed-source databases for embedding within applications. The products differ from Oracle's flagship enterprise database software used for general business systems.

The purchase of Sleepycat, which has been rumored for weeks, gives Oracle another open-source product to accompany its proprietary database offerings. At an investor conference last week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reiterated the company's strategy to generate revenue from a combination of open-source and proprietary software.

"This gives us a chance to further embrace open source and learn the business model," said Robert Shimp, vice president of technology marketing at Oracle. "By having this technology we gain a lot more access and insight into projects worldwide."

Oracle will continue to operate Sleepycat as a stand-alone business and maintain current employees' activities in Berkeley DB open-source project activities, Shimp said.

Unlike Oracle's flagship Oracle 10g database, Sleepycat's Berkeley DB is intended to be embedded within applications. Many of Sleepycat's customers are third-party software companies or value-added resellers, Sleepycat CEO Michael Olson said Monday in an interview with CNET News.com.

"People use Berkeley DB where they don't need the full power of SQL" relational database systems, Olson said. "In systems or devices, where you have to keep data safe and fast but you can predict its use in advance. Think e-mail servers, or switches and routers."

Emeryville, Calif.-based Sleepycat uses a dual-license model: It makes a free, open-source version of its database available, and it has a commercial license for paying customers.

Shimp said that Berkeley DB will fill out Oracle's embedded database product line. Its Oracle Database Lite database is aimed at mobile devices and its TimesTen database, which it acquired last year, is for high-performance, transaction-intensive databases, he said.

Sleepycat is the second open-source database company Oracle has purchased in the past several months. In October, Oracle purchased a small Finnish company called Innobase, which supplies a storage engine for MySQL, an open-source database which, along with open-source companies, is posing a greater competitive threat to Oracle's database business.

Sleepycat, too, can be used as a storage engine with MySQL. Shimp said that its acquisitions of Innobase and Sleepycat do not change Oracle's relationship with MySQL and that both companies will operate as stand-alone entities within Oracle.

In a blog entry on Tuesday, Olson said that Sleepycat is committed to open source. "The open source community remains a critical factor in our success. Our commitment to that community is as strong today as it has always been," he wrote.

In response to pressure from low-end databases, Oracle recently released a free version of Oracle's 10g database.

Oracle is also reported to be in talks to buy open-source middleware company JBoss and Zend Technologies. None of the companies will comment on the rumors.

See more CNET content tagged:
Sleepycat Software Inc., Oracle Corp., database company, Innobase Oy, open source

9 comments

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I wonder...
what Oracle plans to do with its newly acquired products?

Maybe I am just being paranoid, but I think Oracle will someday try to use its new products to hurt companies like MySQL. I can see Oracle shutting down those two DB a not looking back.

Or maybe they just plan to use them to help generate extra revenue from those companies that use them.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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My sentiments.
My opinion is that Berkeley DB will disappear as a product in general. I have never seen Oracle do anything with the "technology" invented by companies they aquire.

Alternatives include Berkeley DB 1.x (not licensed to Sleepycat), which is still used within the base FreeBSD system; gdbm (GNU DBM, which uses the GPL -- not an option for many people), and djb's CDB (which is in no way shape or form as decent as Berkeley DB).

I also expect to see some licensing issues presented, and see products such as MySQL (which supports Berkeley DB) pull BDB support, and the same with PHP.

Today is a sad day.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Link Flag
Doh!
Everyone's being slow to think this through. MySQL is deploying at the rate of 40,000 per *day* versus Oracle's complete, historic Linux base which is a small proportion of this (i'll guess circa 9,000 installations).

MySQL's oxygen is support revenue and the ability to license a cluster product using a dual license model. Step 1: Oracle buys InnoDB, which is the tranactional storage engine under MySQL 5 and MySQL Cluster. Following Oracles purchase of InnoDB, MySQL's next move is to re-invigorate their pre-InnoDB relationship with Sleepycat. Oops, that one's gone too.

Meanwhile, a lot of MySQL sites come though implementation of the LAMP stack, where one of the most popular choices is PHP - Zend's product.

So, come on guys, see this for what it is. It's Oracle trying to cut off MySQL's oxygen supply. Whether they'll manage it or not - or if the open source community will manage to route around the resulting landscape, well, time will tell.

Oracle's approach appears to a lot more plausible that the gamut of "free" low end products that most DB suppliers are trying to compete against open source databases with. Including their own :-)

Ian W.
Posted by ian.waring (68 comments )
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Berkeley DB will continue
Oracle has no plans to discontinue any of the Berkeley DB products or change dual license business model. All of Sleepycat's employees have joined Oracle and will continue to develop, support, and promote the products. Both open source licensees and commercial licensees will be supported. Oracle will continue the business with minimal disruption.

Rex Wang
VP Marketing
Sleepycat Software
Posted by rexwang (1 comment )
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But still...
As an "insider" you would know this is true for now. On the other hand, what's to say that both Berkley DB and InnoDB won't be as profitable as Oracle would like, and just shutting down both companies? No doubt, this is a possibility, which has those of us who support OSS concerned.

Oracle's track record isn't very good, and they rarely ever keep producing or supporting the technologies they aquire. So why would this be any different? Say, five years down the road, if the numbers don't add up the way they like?
Posted by fireball74 (80 comments )
Link Flag
The other shoes drop
I think this fulfills the OSI vision of companies using open source as their back-end to drive their 'mainstream' business. IBM has done allot to but if they buy up MySQL thatr would be allot. I think it would be awesome to have my work float into Oracles offices if they kept it open of course.
As far as Oracle making these products closed it would be a waste because then it would skirt back to the open source community that was beating them in the first place since the products are already pre-licensed under OS contracts. OS contracts provide complete ownership of the product to the consumer.

I think it's better that developers have an inroad to the mainstream in software design. Open source contracts are very diverse and very competitive even more then locked in contracts so there is allot of room for industry.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
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Comperable to OpenSuse and Fedora?
Novelle workls very well with the OpenSUSE commnity which was a reaction to SUSE becoming more closed. I thought they would not work with each other but Novelle figures they have to depend on the FOSS community just like Red Hat/Fedora. Right?
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
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