Oracle Acquires Open-Source Database Firm Sleepycat

Oracle on Tuesday announced that it has bought Sleepycat Software, maker of the Berkeley DB database, for an undisclosed sum. With the purchase, Oracle adds Berkeley DB to its embedded database product line, which includes Oracle Lite for mobile devices and Oracle TimesTen for high performance in-memory database applications.

“Sleepycat’s products enhance Oracle’s market-leading database product family by offering enterprise-class support to customers who need to embed a fast, reliable database at a lower cost,” said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president, Oracle Database Server Technologies.

Embedded Databases Growing

The purchase is strategic for Oracle, whose flagship 10g database is not intended to be embedded within applications. The embedded database market is growing quickly. In fact, it was projected last year to be just over US$2 billion in 2005 and could grow to over $3.2 billion by 2009, according to IDC.

Sleepycat’s Berkeley DB product is the most widely used open-source database in the world with deployments estimated at more than 200 million. The software is distributed under a dual license model. It is available under a public license and also available under a commercial license.

Well-known open-source projects such as the Linux and BSD UNIX operating systems, Apache Web server, OpenLDAP directory, OpenOffice productivity software, and many others embed Berkeley DB technology.

“This market is very diverse, and the technologies tend to be quite specialized. Sleepycat’s Berkeley DB complements Oracle TimesTen and Oracle Lite, allowing Oracle to address a broad range of segments within the embedded DBMS market,” said IDC Analyst Carl Olofson.

Open-Source Moves

The move does not come as any surprise to analysts. Just last week Oracle CEO Larry Ellison restated the company’s intention to generate revenue from a combination of proprietary and open-source software.

The acquisition makes Sleepycat the second open-source database company Oracle has snapped up in the last few months. The company purchased Innobase, a small Finnish company that supplies a storage engine for MySQL, in October.

Interestingly, Oracle was an aggressive early adopter of Linux, but has in the past resisted a full embrace of open-source in terms of a comprehensive stack approach. That is changing.

“It makes sense for Oracle, as well as other software vendors, to begin to expand the exploitation of open source as it best fits their business models and as best serves their customers,” Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told CRM Buyer.

The HP Play

In another Valentine’s Day move, HP and Oracle announced the next phase of their joint activities to help enterprises align IT resources and investments with business strategies.

Specifically, HP plans to incorporate Oracle Fusion Middleware into the HP Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) portfolio. SOA is an architectural approach to building software applications as a collection of autonomous, re-usable business services.

While Oracle’s acquisition of Berkeley DB adds more credence to the company’s focus on applications as a way to expand and hold its current client base with higher value and choice in lower stack functions, the HP deal only bolsters that stance, analysts noted.

“Oracle could be looking to more aggressively distribute its infrastructure as a way of setting the stage or building out the base for its business applications,” Gardner said. “This is all good news for end users. They will have more choice and greater value in databases.”

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