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3/28/2008
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Sun's MySQL Will Continue Oracle Relationship

Despite a new owner and the potential for more competition in the future, MySQL and Oracle will continue to work together.

When MySQL AB was bought by Sun Microsystems, some knowledgeable observers said the first thing Sun would do is make MySQL free of its dependence on Oracle.

MySQL incorporated the InnoDB transaction storage system as part of its database system, then Oracle acquired its Finnish parent company, Innobase Oy, in October 2005. "Look for Sun to do more and more to make MySQL free of any third parties," said Raven Zachary, open source analyst with the 451 Group, in an interview at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.

But Zack Urlocker, the executive VP of products, who supervises both engineering and marketing at MySQL, says such independence is still viewed as unnecessary inside Sun. Urlocker appeared on a panel on the state of the open source database market. Seated nearby was Ken Jacobs, VP of product strategy at Oracle.

MySQL's strength has been in its ability to serve Web pages, and many Web applications are built with MySQL as the database of choice in the background. Oracle aspires to be the database of future applications as well, including Web applications, and it's conceivable the two eventually will come into more direct competition.

But Urlocker says that doesn't mean MySQL can't keep using InnoDB. "We've always had a very good relationship with Oracle," he said after the panel concluded.

"It's absolutely a fact. We've always had a very good relationship," affirmed Jacobs, one of the original employees of Oracle, who helped establish Oracle with the federal government from its new Washington office in 1981.

MySQL isn't ready to announce anything yet, but the way Urlocker and Jacobs exchanged meaningful glances, it was as if to say they're ready to sign a multiyear continuation of their agreement.

Meanwhile, another third-party piece of software on which MySQL used to depend, the SolidDB for MySQL that was under the sponsorship of IBM, has been pushed off to SourceForge. Dhiren Patel, IBM's community relations manager for the overall SolidDB project, announced that IBM had acquired SolidDB in December for its in-memory database, technology that will help it compete with Oracle TimesTen.

"This in-memory technology, and not Solid's open source offering, was the key driver behind IBM's acquisition. As a result, I regret to inform you that, effectively immediately, we will not be continuing further development on SolidDB for MySQL," he wrote March 3, six days after Sun completed the MySQL deal.

The open source community around SolidDB for MySQL will be free to continue work on the project, and the developer forums and bug tracking have been migrated to SourceForge as well, Patel noted.

Urlocker said both Jacobs and Charles Phillips, Oracle's president, have assured him of continued, unfettered access to InnoDB. MySQL, initially developed as a read-only database, gets its key transaction handling characteristics from InnoDB and SolidDB for MySQL.

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