Oracle unveils first core Berkeley DB release

Release 4.5 of the embedded database offers improved performance, availability, and ease of use

Oracle is releasing its first version of the core Berkeley DB embedded database since acquiring the software through its February purchase of open-source developer Sleepycat Software.

Oracle is due to make Berkeley DB release 4.5 generally available on Wednesday. The focus is around improving performance, availability, and ease of use, according to Rex Wang, vice president of embedded systems marketing at Oracle and Sleepycat's former vice president of marketing. The new functionality was already on the road map at Sleepycat, he said.

First developed in 1991, Berkeley DB is the core version of the Sleepycat embedded database, but the open-source vendor also began offering XML (extensible markup language) and Java versions of its database in recent years. Oracle already put out a new release of Berkeley DB Java Edition, version 3.0, in May and plans a refresh of Berkeley DB XML shortly, Wang said.

New in Berkeley DB release 4.5 are the ability for users to upgrade or patch a replicated Berkeley DB without having to take the entire system down, multiversion concurrency controls to handle changes being made to the database by many users, and a replication framework to help developers build highly available systems.

Oracle is actively looking at how to get Berkeley DB to work with the rest of its product portfolio, but has no news on that front as yet.

Unlike other areas of its business, notably applications, where Oracle is looking to consolidate disparate products into a single code base, the vendor's approach to the embedded database market is rather different.

"We offer customers a range of products to meet very different needs," Wang said. As well as Berkeley DB, Oracle has its TimesTen In-Memory Database and Oracle Database Lite 10g and the company can also embed its higher end Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g software. Berkeley DB is complementary to Oracle's other embedded databases, but differs in having no SQL (structured query language) layer and is able to store data in memory or on disk.

There's a whole host of different organizations looking to embed databases in very different environments from cell phones to networking equipment to hosted applications. The beauty of embedded databases is that they're designed to run "unattended," without any need for management by database administrators, effectively disappearing from view into other applications, he added.

Oracle's prime reason for acquiring Sleepycat was and remains the vendor's desire to gain more presence in the embedded database arena, Wang said.

Earlier this week, open-source database vendor MySQL AB confirmed that it had discontinued support for Berkeley DB as one of its storage engines.

"That was due to our request to them which they readily agreed to," Wang said. He doesn't believe there was a significant amount of customer use. "It was an interface that neither party was maintaining," Wang added. "For years, no work was done on the interface."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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