Oracle acquires SleepyCat – open-source BerkeleyDB embeddable database engine now owned by Oracle

Lucas Jellema
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It was a rumour – actually one of three: JBoss, SleepyCat and Zend PHP, see our article Is Oracle buying JBoss? Or Zend PHP? Or SleepyCat? Or all of them? – and now it turns out to be true. There have been several announcements, most notably the SleepyCat Blog: (thanks Jan for pointing it out to me) that states: “You have likely heard the
; you may even have heard the
. It’s true. This morning, we announced that Sleepycat is joining forces
with Oracle.” The blog goes on to explain why “[] this transaction makes sense, and what we hope to accomplish by working with the
world’s leading database company.”:  “We’re joining Oracle because we believe the opportunity in embedded data
management is too big for us to handle on our own. It’s impossible to predict
the future, but the smart money is on more computers in more places doing more
things.” And: “Last year, Oracle
acquired TimesTen
, another company with interesting embeddable database
technology. […] We believe that Sleepycat and its Berkeley DB products
complement what Oracle already owns. We think we bring depth and experience to
an already remarkable team.”

To reassure many people who may have gotten worried:”We have no plans to change the open source strategy that Sleepycat pioneered,
and that has been so successful for us. The Berkeley DB products will continue
to be distributed under both open source and proprietary licenses. The open
source community remains a critical factor in our success. Our commitment to
that community is as strong today as it has always been. If you’re a Sleepycat customer, I think you’ll like what you see. We’ll be
easier to find, we’ll be able to offer more services in more places, and we’ll
have a much wider range of products for you to choose from when you’re making
your end-to-end architecture decisions. Our product plans are unchanged. We’re
staffed up and hard at work on the features you’ve asked us to build.”

Oracle announced: “Oracle today (14th February 2006) announced that it has added Berkeley DB to its embedded database product line which includes Oracle Lite for mobile devices and Oracle TimesTen for high performance in-memory database applications.” The Oracle Press Release can be found here: It says: ““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. ” The remainder of the press release: “
According to Carl Olofson of IDC’s research,
“The embedded database market was projected last year to be just over
$2 billion in 2005 and forecasted to grow to over $3.2 billion by the
year 2009. This market is very diverse, and the technologies tend to be
quite specialized. Sleepycat’s Berkeley DB complements Oracle TimesTen
and Oracle Lite, allowing Oracle to address a broad range of segments
within the embedded DBMS market.”

Sleepycat Software’s Berkeley DB is the most
widely used open source database in the world with deployments
estimated at more than 200 million. Berkeley DB is distributed under a
dual license model, i.e. available under a public license and also
available under a commercial license. Well-known open source projects
such as the Linux and BSD UNIX operating systems, Apache web server,
OpenLDAP directory, OpenOffice productivity software, and many others
embed Berkeley DB technology.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

To give you some idea about the widespread presence of BerkeleyDB, see this comment from the SleepyCat Blog:”We conservatively estimate that there are 200 million copies of Berkeley DB
running out there. Berkeley DB is in every copy of Linux, every distro, whether
it’s server, desktop or embedded. It’s also in every copy of BSD Unix, so
OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc. Every copy of OpenLDAP and sendmail uses us.
Every copy of OpenOffice and StarOffice (Sun estimates 40 million are out
there). 3 million Motorola cellphones. Many copies of Movable Type, Subversion
and Apache HTTP server. A small number of MySQL deployments use Berkeley DB. I
could go on…

Why is Oracle buying SleepyCat?

It is a very logical question of course. Similar to the question why Oracle bought InnoBase. The official reason given by Oracle can hardly be the whole story: “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”. Oracle already had Oracle Lite and TimesTen. What does SleepyCat add – except marketshare?. I am sure things will become clearer in the months to come.

About Post Author

Lucas Jellema

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Developer Champion. Solution architect and developer on diverse areas including SQL, JavaScript, Kubernetes & Docker, Machine Learning, Java, SOA and microservices, events in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on user groups and community events and conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle Code, CodeOne, NLJUG JFall and Oracle OpenWorld.
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