Sleepycat Boosts Database

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-07-14 Print this article Print

XML support added to open-source Berkeley DB.

Sleepycat Software Inc. last week tossed its open-source database into the XML ring with the release of code for Berkeley DB XML, a native XML database thats built on top of its open-source embedded database, Berkeley DB.

Berkeley DB XML offers a single data repository for storage and retrieval of native XML and non-XML data, avoiding the XML conversion overhead that occurs with relational databases that have been retrofit with XML adapters, officials said.

The database supports XPath 1.0, a World Wide Web Consortium standard language for addressing parts of an XML document. It offers flexible indexing, giving application developers the ability to control query performance and tune data retrieval.

Sleepycat snuggles up to XML

Features of the Berkeley DB XML native XML database

Feature Benefit
Support for XPath 1.0 Supports W3C language for addressing parts of XML documents
Flexible indexing Application developers gain control over query performance and gain ability to tune retrieval
Berkeley DB engine Concurrent access; transactional capability; scalability up to 256 terabytes for the database, up to 4GB for keys and values
C++ and Java APIs Supports major programming languages
Inclusion of source code Developers can view and customize code

Having Berkeley DB as the base engine for the XML offering means that the new product will inherit advanced database features such as concurrent access, transactions, recovery and replication, officials said. It will scale up to 256 terabytes for the database and up to 4GB for individual keys and values.

Wayne Kernochan, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, in Boston, said XML is picking up strength in the enterprise because it fuels Web services and EAI (enterprise application integration).

"Where I see XML and in particular XML databases as beginning to get attention is with the whole idea of EAI," Kernochan said. "For that, XML makes sense, given [how it handles] disparate data sources."

The release of the open source code heralds the end of a 12-month beta program that comprised some 5,000 companies, many of them huge names such as 3M Co., Inc., BEA Systems Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc.s Bell Labs, The Boeing Co., Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and NEC America Inc. Those big names are testimony to the traction XML is gaining in the enterprise, said Sleepycat officials, in Lincoln, Mass.

Sleepycats software is sold using a typical open-source scheme: free to download and use or fee-based to ship a product whose source code is withheld. The company has 200 paying customers, according to officials.

Unlimited replication rights for Berkeley DB sell for $250,000. Sleepycat writes proprietarylike licenses for companies that prefer to keep their codes to themselves, with average selling prices of $150,000 for the transactional engine, officials said. Berkeley DB XML will be priced at $15,000 per server, with the same free-or-fee terms.

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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