Oracle Puts Squeeze on MySQL With Latest Buy

Oracle announced Friday what seems to be a squeeze play on MySQL — the purchase of Innobase, a Finnish developer of open-source database technology. Terms of the agreement were not released.

Innobase’s most prominent product is InnoDB, a transaction engine that ships as an add-on to MySQL, the most popular open-source database. Although there are five other transactional engines that work with MySQL, InnoDB is in the default position.

Oracle Can’t Lose

“It’s a no-lose situation for Oracle,” David Bradshaw, principal analyst practice leader for CRM at Ovum, told LinuxInsider. “It probably cost them next to nothing and it’s a way of putting the squeeze on MySQL.”

By that he means that Oracle has gained a way to indirectly influence the open source database, which competes with Oracle’s Linux-based database management systems.

My SQL has put a happy face on the move in a press release:

“This announcement represents further validation of the open-source movement. The beauty of open-source software and the GPL license is freedom. As with all MySQL code, InnoDB is provided under the GPL license, meaning that users have complete freedom to use, develop, and modify the code base,” company CEO Marten Mickos said. “We are pleased to see even broader industry acceptance of open-source database technology. This also means that database developers now have even greater flexibility to use MySQL and Oracle in the same environment.”

No Moves Yet

Bradshaw thinks InnoDB will be in a holding pattern.

“In my opinion, they won’t do something with it right away,” Bradshaw said. Oracle’s strategy, he believes, will be to “listen and learn.” If the company feels it’s being squeezed out of the low-end open source market, it can begin marketing InnoDB with its own database. The company reaps its highest profits from maintenance fees, not licenses, so it stands only to gain in this scenario.

Charles Rozwat, Oracle’s database and middleware vice president, had this to say about the acquisition in a statement: “Oracle intends to continue developing the InnoDB technology and expand our commitment to open-source software. Oracle has already developed and contributed an open-source clustered file system to Linux. We expect to make additional contributions in the future.”

From a strategic perspective, Bradshaw also pointed out that Oracle was positioning itself against a potential entry into the market by Microsoft. “If Microsoft gets into the market, who will be standing there? Oracle,” he said.

The buy is Oracle’s 11th acquisition in less than a year.

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