MySQL Takes Over SAP DB Development

The open-source database developer reports a $19.5 million Series B round of financing, fueled by a partnership that will result in the company's takeover of development of SAP AG's open-source database.

Open-source database developer MySQL AB is riding high, scoring venture capital wins in a tight-fisted economy, fueled by a recently announced partnership that will result in the companys takeover of development of SAP AGs open-source database.

Officials at the Uppsala, Sweden, company on Tuesday reported a $19.5 million Series B round of financing that will fuel its growth in the mainstream database management system market.

This follows the companys announcement last week that it has acquired commercial rights to SAP DB and will provide it free of charge under the free software/open source GNU General Public License. The company will also offer a commercial license aimed at companies that want to resell the database and therefore would prefer to refrain from opening up their code.

According to SAP AG officials, about 1,100 SAP AG customers use the SAP DB database worldwide, in about 2,000 installations. The database was originally released in October 2000 in response to customer requests for a nonproprietary database.

SAP AG officials, in Palo Alto, Calif., said that the company is turning over control of the database to MySQL for a few reasons. One reason is that the initial purpose of creating a nonproprietary database—i.e., to keep costs down—was canceled out by the persistent scarcity of development skills for SAP DB.

"There were so few people who could work on it," said an SAP AG spokesman. "Turning it over to someone like MySQL, with their widespread developer community, to let it run free, is good. It secures lower total cost of ownership for customers and allows the product to be released in a faster cycle and to be upgraded in a wider-spread dimension than what SAP would use it for."

Another reason for turning over the reins on SAP DB is that SAP AG doesnt want to compete in the database market, the spokesman said. "Were one of the largest resellers of Oracle [Corp. 9i], [IBMs] DB2 or Microsoft [Corp.s SQL Server databases]," he said. "When someone buys our software, they check a box to say which database they want it to ship with. We said, Hey, we dont want to compete with [our partners] by having this other product that we developed. [MySQL] is a fourth alternative, and it has a time and place, and the partners are all OK with it. They say that MySQL may be a complement, by providing support, faster innovation and partnering with customers that they couldnt [access] otherwise."

SAP AG will continue to support SAP DB installations for the foreseeable future, said officials for the companies, and will transition to a co-development and co-support effort at some point. Also, by years end, the database will be renamed, they said.

The first release of a database that will be compatible with both SAP AG and MySQL installations will be in the fourth quarter, officials said.