Oracle Pounces on Sleepycat
Oracle has purchased Sleepycat Software, a provider of open-source database software typically embedded in electronic equipment like telecommunications networks. Sleepycat makes Berkeley DB database, which is popular with many electronic-gadget makers. Oracle says it plans to continue selling Berkeley DB under that name, and to continue the existing licensing terms. Financial terms of the deal, completed yesterday, were not disclosed.
"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, in a written statement. The acquisition comes just four months after Oracle purchased Innobase, another database open-source developer, in October 2005. That acquisition followed Oracle's June 2005 purchase of open-source database supplier TimesTen.
Oracle has categorized the Sleepycat acquisition as complementary to these other purchases and as a way to build out its middleware offerings; the recent buying spree has some industry pundits asking if Oracle has entered the open-source market. "Open source comes in many flavors-free software, purchased support contracts, introductory functionality with purchased extensions, training, and such-and buyers are increasingly interested in exploring the options available to them, especially if they see opportunities for cost avoidance and/or reduction," says John Hagerty, vice president of research at AMR Research. "It was just a matter of time before Oracle jumped into the fray."
With open-source technology gaining momentum, there could be more acquisitions down the road, according to Hagerty. "Last week, [CEO Larry] Ellison indicated that more acquisitions were in the offing, specifically for middleware and BI software. Immediately thereafter, the open-source community was abuzz that Oracle was targeting three acquisitions in that space: JBoss is a middleware provider; Sleepycat Software, an embeddable database provider, and Zend Technologies, maker of PHP development tools for server-based HTML scripting."
These latest acquisitions also may serve to vindicate the open-source market, he says. "Oracle has put its imprimatur on this movement, further legitimizing [open source] as a viable business model for the future and enhancing its take as an ever-present technology platform provider," he says. "A traditional software purchase model alone would eventually confuse Oracle's growth objectives. Oracle has to find new ways to expand its business and influence in the market."
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