Oracle grabs Sleepycat

Company gains embedded-database

Oracle has acquired open source database vendor Sleepycat Software, strengthening its hand in the embedded database market and proving true at least one of the rumors about its plans to buy open source companies.

The acquisition extends Oracle's embedded database product line, which also includes Oracle Lite for mobile devices and last year's acquisition TimesTen for high-performance in-memory database applications.

Sleepycat's Berkeley DB is embedded in several open source products, including the Linux and BSD Unix OSes, Apache Web server, OpenLDAP directory, and OpenOffice.

The acquisition means customers have access to a fast, open source database at a low cost and with "enterprise-class support," Oracle said.

Oracle has been rumored for weeks to be in talks to buy open source vendors, including JBoss, Sleepycat, and Zend Technologies.

The moves by software vendors to snap up open source companies are seen partly as a way to attract developers in the hope that those developers will upgrade to paid-for products for wide application deployments.

Sleepycat could also turn into a revenue generator for Oracle in terms of subscription contracts and support services, said David Mitchell, a practice leader at analyst company Ovum. He said that about 35 percent of revenue generated in the embedded database market is from open source products, compared with about 5 percent in the traditional database market.

"I'd rate the traditional part of the market as very mature and with low growth rates, while embedded is doing well. So if Oracle wants to drive on the back of that growth, Sleepycat's a good company to own," Mitchell said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.