Electronic Medical Record System
Electronic Medical Record System

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oracle's Sleepycat buy may be first of several

The face of open-source may be morphing into that of proprietary software as Oracle agreed the purchase of embedded database developer Sleepycat Software and reportedly considers swooping to buy other leaders in the open sector, including middleware leader JBoss.

"Sleepycat's products enhance Oracle's market-leading database product family by offering enterprise-class support to customers who need to embed a fast, reliable database at a lower cost," said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle database server technologies in a statement.

Business Week Online has reported that Oracle is also in talks with JBoss and PHP language leader Zend, while the blog of venture capitalist Paul Kedrosky adds open solutions testing firm SpikeSource as another possible candidate.

Oracle is not the first closed software leader to buy up open-source firms. Novell has bought Linux distributor Suse and Ximian, for example. Last year, IBM bought application server developer Gluecode Software and BEA acquired tools maker M7, while Oracle itself bought database developer Innobase.

However, the jury is still out on the wisdom of such purchases. Novell’s Suse buy has not stopped Red Hat becoming the distance leader in Linux distribution revenues, for example, and some observers question whether open firms that sell out can maintain community support.

None of the parties reportedly involved would comment on the reports regarding Oracle and JBoss or Zend but indicators suggest the JBoss deal in particular could add up.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said at an analyst conference earlier this month that Oracle wants to be the leader in middleware and said open-source technologies could be a positive for his company.

"Rather than fight this open-source trend we think it's important to figure out ways to make it work to our advantage," he said.

Speculation is also rife on the web with some watchers suggesting that the acquisition of Sleepycat and possible purchase of JBoss could weaken other programs that compete with, or work alongside, those firms’ programs. Open database developer MySQL last week announced a new round of financing that added $18.5m to its defences.