SleepyCat CEO: Oracle deal an attempt to disrupt MySQL

The CEO of SleepyCat Software believes Oracle Corp.'s purchase of Finnish firm Innobase is a testament to the power of open source.

NEWTON, Mass. -- Oracle Corp.'s acquisition of Innobase OY is largely an effort to disrupt rival database vendor MySQL AB and is a testament to the growing momentum of open source software (OSS), the outspoken president and CEO of SleepyCat Software said in an interview.

Any attempt to disrupt a competitor is an acknowledgement that the competitor matters.
Michael Olson,
President and CEOSleepyCat Software

Speaking at the Open Source Business Conference, SleepyCat CEO Michael Olson said he believes Oracle's takeover of Innobase, the Finnish developer of InnoDB, a discrete open source transactional database technology that ships with MySQL, is an acknowledgement of the growing importance of open source and of MySQL in particular.

"Any attempt to disrupt a competitor is an acknowledgement that the competitor matters," Olson said. "And I think that acquisition was in significant part an attempt to disrupt MySQL's business."

Olson, who said his company's open source embedded database BerkeleyDB is not in direct competition with Oracle's relational database, added that if Oracle's goal is to disrupt MySQL, he doesn't think it will be successful because of the adaptable nature of the open source development model.

"[MySQL] got this pluggable storage architecture layer where they can put different engines in underneath," Olson said. "InnoDB is the one that has been most broadly promoted, but BerkeleyDB and the MyISAM table manager and others from other vendors are also available. I think that MySQL has got plenty of choices there."

Olson also said current MySQL customers using InnoDB have nothing to worry about for now.

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"It's pretty clear that MySQL can continue to distribute this software," he said. "But in the long term, I think there are questions about its ability to do dual licenses."

Oracle announced the purchase of Innobase in October, along with a pledge to continue developing InnoDB and expand its support for open source software. The Redwood Shores, Calif., company also said it "fully expects" to negotiate an extension of InnoDB's relationship with MySQL when that contract comes up for renewal next year.

Innobase is the latest addition to Oracle's growing list of acquired companies, including J.D. Edwards & Co., PeopleSoft Inc., Retek Inc., Oblix and the soon-to-be acquired Siebel Systems Inc.

"[Oracle feels] right now that they're capitalized to go buy innovative companies that can help them grow their business in new ways," Olson said. "It's a smart move. It's a company with plenty of capital, and [it] needs to look for new talent and new markets in order to grow."

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