Oracle has agreed to buy TimesTen, a privately held company that makes software for boosting the performance of database applications used for stock trading, airline reservations and other areas where fast response times are critical, Oracle announced Thursday.
While customers use Oracle's database to store large volumes of information in back-end systems, TimesTen's products store a subset of that data in memory in the applications tier, where it can be accessed more quickly, said James Groff, TimesTen's chief executive officer, in a conference call to discuss the deal.
Many of its customers are in the telecoms and financial services sectors, although enterprises are also warming to in-memory databases to create "real-time dashboards" that give managers a snapshot of their businesses, according to Groff. TimesTen has about 1,500 customers, he said, making it one of the leaders in its field. Customers include JP Morgan Chase, Sprint , and United Air Lines.
More than half its customers already use Oracle's database, Groff estimated, and Oracle's is the only database that works "out of the box" with its TimesTen/Cache product. Its other two products work with other databases. Oracle will continue to support other database platforms if it sees enough demand, according to Andy Mendelsohn, Oracle senior vice president for database server technologies.
TimesTen was founded about eight years ago and is profitable, according to Groff. It has headquarters in Mountain View, California. Oracle will retain "the vast majority" of its approximately 90 employees if the deal is approved, he said.
Oracle, in Redwood Shores, California, expects to close the deal by the end of July, pending regulatory approval. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Oracle's current plan is to keep selling TimesTen products on a stand-alone basis. It will also fine-tune the software to work better with its middleware and SQL database engine, which should further improve performance, Mendelshon said.
Telecoms customers use its products in two primary ways: Equipment vendors such as Cisco Systems embed its software in network devices for call processing and other network operations. Operators also use the software to store customer information they need access to quickly, such as how many minutes a caller has left on a prepaid card.
Financial services companies use it to store information about client portfolios and market conditions, allowing them to make trading decisions rapidly. "We like to say we focus on applications where milliseconds matter," Groff said.
TimesTen's main competitor was software written in-house, according to Groff. "By far the number-one way that customers achieve real-time is with home-grown custom-built solutions," he said.
Other rivals include database vendors such as IBM and Sybase, and specialty vendors such as Ants Software of Burlingame, California.
IBM played down the significance of Oracle's acquisition. When it bought Informix a few years ago it gained two products, Real-Time Loader and Finance Foundation for Capital Markets, which it brought over to its DB2 database, and which perform an equivalent function to TimesTen's products, according to Bob Picciano, vice president for IBM database servers.
Oracle will talk more about its plans for TimesTen products during a Webcast at 8 a.m. PDT on June 21, an Oracle spokeswoman said.