Sun Embraces Open-Source Database

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-09-17 Print this article Print

The company is standardizing on Berkeley DB for its software line, including its forthcoming Orion and Mad Hatter releases.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is standardizing its software products on an open-source database to store and manage non-relational data. Sleepycat Software Inc. will announce on Wednesday that Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., has chosen Sleepycats Berkeley DB database as the embedded database within its software line. The database is incorporated in key components of the Sun Java Enterprise System, formerly known as Project Orion, and the Sun Java Enterprise Desktop System, formerly known as Project Mad Hatter, both launched on Tuesday.
The new deal is an enterprise license for Berkeley DB that allows Sun to use the database in any and all of its products, said President and CEO Mike Olson, who couldnt discuss the terms of the deal. Sources say the value of the deal is in the seven figures. The new licensing arrangement includes support and rights for Sun to use future Berkeley DB upgrades.
"This deal is certainly significant because Sun is a great big fish, and for Sun to make a decision like this required careful thought on their part," Olson said. Sun already had been using Berkeley DB in some of its software products, such as its directory server, messaging server, portal server and calendar server, Olson said. Sun officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment, but Olson said that the company chose Berkeley DB not only because of the technology behind it but also because Sleepycat offers a dual license: It offers a free open-source license for using the database within open-source software and a paid commercial license for software vendors like Sun using Berkeley DB within commercial software. With its commercial license, Sleepycat offers indemnity, since it owns the intellectual property to Berkeley DB, Olson said. Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software, have emphasized Suns focus on indemnification, particularly with its Linux version of the Java Enterprise Desktop System, as a safeguard for enterprises worried about legal issues such as the actions The SCO Group Inc. has taken with Linux. "(Sun) gets the benefits of open source but also a profitable, growing vendor standing behind the product," Olson said. With Suns Java Desktop System, Berkeley DB already was the data store for much of the open-source applications that comprises it, including the GNOME desktop and Ximians Evolution e-mail and collaboration client. eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli contributed to this report. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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