Assasination attempt on MySQL? – Oracle Announces the Acquisition of Open Source Software Company, Innobase

Lucas Jellema 7

Interesting news on Friday: the Oracle acquisition – the eleventh this year – of Innobase. Innobase? You may very well have never heard of it. Unless you are a serious MySQL user. MySQL the most popular open source database product – a serious competitor to Oracle’s core money maker: the RDBMS. Innobase is one of several database engines you can use with MySQL. But it is the most important one for organisations that are looking for a serious database, with high concurrency, ACID transactions, foreign keys with cascading UPDATE and DELETE in MySQL. That means: if you are looking for a database that supports Foreign Keys or real transactions , MySQL can only deliver when used with the InnoDB engine from Innobase. That means in my opinion that Oracle now holds the key to whether MySQL is or is not a serious ‘enterprise level’ database!

From the Oracle Press Release:

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., 07-OCT-2005 Oracle Corporation today announced the acquisition of Finland-based Innobase OY. Innobase is the developer of discrete transactional database technology, InnoDB, that is distributed under an open source license. “Oracle has long been a supporter of open source software such as Linux and Apache,” said Charles Rozwat, Oracle’s Executive Vice President in charge of Database and Middleware Technology. “Innobase is an innovative small company that develops open source database technology. 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.”

InnoDB is not a standalone database product: it is distributed as a part of the MySQL database. InnoDB’s contractual relationship with MySQL comes up for renewal next year. Oracle fully expects to negotiate an extension of that relationship.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

at Oracle Announces the Acquisition of Open Source Software Company, Innobase

(from discussions on an forum): …. Oracle fully expects to negotiate an extension of that relationship: “Read $$$…. This is the logical way Oracle would attack a competitor (buy up a key piece of their technology). Oracle looked for MySQL’s easiest weakness
to exploit, and found it. It isn’t even vaguely cloaked, because InnoDB doesn’t even have a db product, it is just licensed by MySQL. This certainly puts a dent in the MySQL 5.0 press buzz, which I suppose was part of the timing.”

On WebProNews: This appears to be a strategic move by Oracle to put MySQL between a rock and hard place. Innobase is the company that provides the underlying code for the InnoDB storage engine in MySQL. It’s the de-facto choice for developers who need high concurrency, row-level locking, and transactions in MySQL. For many years now, MySQL AB and Innobase Oy (founded by Heikki Tuuri) have worked closely together to make that technology a seamless part of MySQL. MySQL’s public reaction right now isn’t the “holy f$@%ing shit!” that likely occurred internally. Kaj Arno, MySQL’s VP of Community Relations, sent out a message to many MySQL users today titled ” MySQL AB Welcomes Oracle to the FOSS Database Market”.

I expect those negotiations could be quite interesting. Maybe not next year, but the year after? Oracle could decide to put the squeeze on MySQL someday in a way that hurts their customers but not “the community” (those using the GPL version).

MySQL is now faced with the prospect of licensing technology they cannot ship without from their biggest rival. Interestingly, there’s always been once piece of the InnoDB puzzle that’s not available under the GPL: the InnoDB Hot Backup Tool. Without it, database administrators cannot backup their InnoDB tables without shutting down MySQL or at least locking out all transactions.

Oracle just bought themselves a whole lot of leverage with MySQL AB and a talented team of database engineers to boot.

I’ve always wondered why MySQL AB didn’t buy Innobase Oy years ago. It always made complete sense from where I sat. But I’m hardly an insider when it comes to the relationship between those companies. Needless to say, that relationship just got far more “interesting.”

I hope, for the sake of the community and the company (I’ve known many MySQL employees for years), that Oracle is true to their promises. But it is Oracle, so I’m naturally skeptical.

Also on:

And on RedHerring:

And of course, the reaction from MySQL AB, the company behind MySQL:

7 thoughts on “Assasination attempt on MySQL? – Oracle Announces the Acquisition of Open Source Software Company, Innobase

  1. Some time ago, at Amis we surveyed the field of Open Source Databases.

    Roughly speaking, the conclusion was that PostgreSql was the better database, but MySql had a larger user base. With these developments, PostgreSql seems the obvious choice to me, provided that you/a customer is keen on using an Open Source solution, of course.

    At home I’ve recently (coincidentally?) switched from MySQL to PostgreSQL, and I’m a happy man 😉

  2. I got this idea from a sheet from Mr Abrahams (Oracle Nederland)., where he had a “Timeten” solution between RAC (midtier), Timesten (midtier), Oracle EE database (backend). Another point is that Timesten is much, much faster (it’s in memory, build for in memory use). What it lacks is a recovery/backup solution, that how i got this idea to implement innobase. Another point is that it fits somehow in the agressive SOA fentures (next is Weblogic?)

  3. This is now the second database solution within a year, asides Timesten, which was bought by Oracle. It could be that they want to fabric something which whoud fit in their fusion/SOA plans, for instance a realtime in memory database solution for the midtier or on a “lightweight” machine like a laptop/pda.

  4. You can of course look at this from a very positive side, being a MySQL supporter:
    – Oracle deems InnoDB such outstanding technology that it is actually interested in it; that gives a lot of credit to the current InnoDB based MySQL implementations around the world
    – Oracle deems MySQL such a serious contender in the (lower but not quite so low anymore end of the) Database Market; that too strengthens the confidence in MySQL.

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