The Buying Battle

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-02-23 Print this article Print

Indeed, scoring the noted database expert is the latest salvo in what many have seen as a small war between Oracle and the tiny Swedish database open-source company. Oracle has in recent months purchased both of the transactional storage engines that are crucial to MySQL 5.0, the latest enterprise-level version of the database.
The first buy was Oracles purchase of Innobase in October, in which Oracle gained control of the InnoDB storage engine.
The second buy came Feb. 14 when Oracle pounced on Sleepycat Software, thereby gaining control of the Berkeley DB embedded, open-source database. That all comes on top of Oracle having tried to buy MySQL itself at an undisclosed time and for an undisclosed price, according to what MySQL CEO Marten Mickos told CNET during the recent Open Source Business Conference. Its widely agreed that MySQL needs to create its own transactional storage engine to wean itself from relying on the engines that are now under Oracles control. Coding a transactional engine is no easy task, however, and some have questioned whether MySQL had the particular, heavy-duty skills on hand to tackle the job. Starkey will bring the skills such a task requires, and then some. Over the years, he was responsible for designing DECs relational database architecture and for creating the InterBase RDBMS, which was the first relational database to support multi-versioning, event alerters, arrays, triggers and BLOBs. He and Harrison worked on the design and development of InterBase through its various owners, including InterBase Software Corp., which Starkey founded, Ashton-Tate and Borland International. Since 2000, theyve worked on the related open-source software project, Firebird. Starkey has also produced Web application development environments, object-oriented tools and visual IDEs. MySQLs Curry said that its too early to get into the specifics of what Starkey will be doing at MySQL, but that his expertise will be "shared throughout the companys development organization, including various features in future versions of MySQL database server and pluggable storage engine architecture." MySQL is "thrilled to have him on board," Curry said, "since there are plenty of projects where he can help MySQL deliver better products." As for Netfrastructure, its a one-person firm, and Starkey and Harrison are seen as the real plums of the acquisition, Curry said. Still, MySQL plans to figure out over time how and if to implement the technology assets to become open-source products. In the meantime, MySQL will continue to support Netfrastructure customers, Curry said. MySQL plans to announce not only the hire of Starkey and Harrison on Feb. 27, but also that its acquired a new chief technology officer, Taneli Otala. Otala comes to MySQL after a stint as CTO and vice president of Engineering for SenSage, a provider of enterprise security analytics. Hes also held executive and senior engineering management positions with Oracle, Verano, Zambeel, GlobalCenter/Global Crossing and Alcom Corp. and founded Otasoft Oy Inc. He studied electrical and mechanical engineering at the University of Oulu in his native Finland. "Im very happy that Jim, Ann and Taneli have joined MySQL AB," Michael "Monty" Widenius, MySQLs co-founder, is quoted as saying in a draft of the press release. "There is plenty of work to go around, and with their combined experience, they can help us deliver on all the plans that we havent had time to pursue yet—and also supply us with lots of fresh new ideas." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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