February 4, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Sun floats open-source database idea

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Sun Microsystems has raised the possibility that it might offer customers its own database, a move that could trigger displeasure at Oracle but curry favor with open-source advocates.

Chief Executive Scott McNealy offered the provocative idea Wednesday at a meeting of influential financial analysts at Sun's headquarters here. During a speech, he showed a slide that placed the words "Sun DB" next to a list of existing database products.

McNealy offered no details besides "stay tuned," but Sun President Jonathan Schwartz indicated in an interview that database software is one possible way Sun plans to extend into new open-source software realms.


What's new:
Sun has hinted it may offer its own database to flesh out its server software suite. A Sun DB could anger partner Oracle, but it could curry favor with advocates of open-source software, which is at the center of Sun's strategy to attract more programmers to its technology.

Bottom line:
Starting a DB project from scratch would be tough, but there are potential partners in the increasingly mainstream open-source realm. And though offering an open-source DB that competes directly with Oracle's cash cow might irk a major business partner, Sun has shown a willingness lately to tussle with the giant.

More stories on Sun and open source

"I think it's clear the market has spoken that open source is the path that the developer community and the customer community wants to drive down, and I think we're going to do what we can to try to give customers as big a set of options as we can," Schwartz said. "I don't think it's going to be limited to simply operating systems. Maybe it will extend to file systems, maybe it will extend to databases, maybe it will extend to middleware."

William Hurley, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, believes Sun will eventually offer a database to flesh out its server software suite. But a direct fight with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would be foolhardy and unlikely.

"I would counsel strongly against them acquiring database technology to go head-to-head with Oracle," Hurley said.

If Sun chooses a partnership for a database, one company stands out from the alternatives: Computer Associates International, which is working to bring more attention to its 30-year-old and now open-source Ingres database. "We have ongoing efforts with Sun, and some of those efforts include Ingres," said Tony Gaughan, senior vice president of development at CA.

Unlike rivals IBM and Microsoft, Sun has no database software to sell in a $13.5 billion market that Oracle leads, according to IDC.

Lacking a database is significant given Sun's argument that customers want to buy a package of integrated technology rather than parts that must be assembled. Instead, Sun relies on a tight partnership with database giant Oracle.

Offering an open-source database that competes directly with Oracle's cash cow might not sit well with a major business partner that also has strong partnerships with Dell and Hewlett-Packard. But Sun has shown a willingness recently to tussle with Oracle.

First of all, Sun promotes with increasing aggression its Java Enterprise System, server software with several components that

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Don't discount Cloudscape
Sure Cloudscape is owned by IBM, but its now open sourced.
Cloudscape is a general purpose DB, albiet a Java DB which would be perfect for Sun.

Keep in mind, it will allow Sun to offer something that will not **** off Larry. ;-)
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If IBM created Cloudscape and released it to the OpenSource community, how do you think they compare it to their commercial DB2 product? Why would they give away a product that can compete with DB2? Why should we not discount a redundant product from IBM that was never intended to generate profits? Have you seen the Derby perfermance statistics? Besides Derby/Cloudscape are tied directly to Java. It is not a product that has the wide-reaching market of Oracle or MSSQL, or even MySQL. It sounds to me like it needs a Java environment just to exist, so it will never be able to compete at the same level as more common db systems.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
No Thanks - Already have PostgreSQL
Which is free and covers the bases. If things outgrow
PostgreSQL, there's always Oracle. But this adds nothing that
developers don't already have.
Posted by (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not upgrade to FSP instead?
You write "If things outgrow PostgreSQL, there's always Oracle."


Perhaps a better upgrade path would be to FSP (Fujitsu Supported PostgreSQL)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://fastware.com.au/docs/FujitsuSupportedPostgreSQLWhitePaper.pdf" target="_newWindow">http://fastware.com.au/docs/FujitsuSupportedPostgreSQLWhitePaper.pdf</a>
which I believe has Fujitsu's extremely scalable "Extened Storage Manager"(ESM) to provide extremely heavy I/O, many-way SMP, etc; with PostgreSQL's parser,planner and executor for SQL compatability.
Posted by (12 comments )
Link Flag
Another option - One$DB as Sun DB
Heres why:

- It fulfils all criteria

- Is licensed under the LGPL ----&gt; free for free as well as commercial apps

- Its in Java (also J2EE certified)

Have a look at:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.daffodildb.com/one-dollar-db.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.daffodildb.com/one-dollar-db.html</a>

Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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