Saturday, October 08, 2005

I am going to stray from the "woe is me" posts for a bit to a foray into computer databases. Slashdot, reported the other day that, Oracle, the world's largest database software company, accquired InnoDB, a maker of database table software. Now this might seem like an obscure database company buying another obscure database company but, in fact, this is a huge deal for computer databases.

Let me explain a bit about how these things work so that you can understand why this is important. Computer databases come in a few flavors, like Object Oriented Database, but for most databases that businesses and professional computer people use, they are called the Relational Database Management Systems, most of which which use Structured Query Language as a programming language for queries against the database. A company called MySQL has been developing a database management system using the Open Source method for developing software and, in MySQL, there is a choice of using InnoDB as a table type for the relational part of the management system. InnoDB gives a huge number of advantages over the native MyISAM table type, which is the default in MySQL.

In the database market, MySQL is making great strides in competing with Oracle. Their 5.0 series of databases could possibly prove a real competitor to Oracle because MySQL is given away for free as long as you do not ship software directly to a customer. This could highly undercut Oracle especially if you are just using MySQL "in-house", such as a bank where they do not ship software to customers but they keep huge amounts of data about every transaction in databases.

As you can see, InnoDB is a company on its own and is not affiliated with MySQL directly. This provided Oracle with the gap they needed to cut MySQL off at the knees. Without InnoDB to give its many advantages to MySQL, Oracle will be able to out maneuver them in the market. This will not stop MySQL because the code that runs InnoDB is open source and freely available but it could stop any more development from InnoDB's side and this would slow down MySQL as they would be forced to reallocate resources to continue development on InnoDB.

What I wrote above is the worst case scenario as MySQL is concerned. Oracle could be looking into the open source database market for new profits. If this is the case, they will continue developing InnoDB, in hopes of providing service contracts to companies that choose MySQL + InnoDB.

Oracle has yet to show what their intentions are. The MySQL team is remaining positive about Oracle's intentions but I do not trust Oracle in any way, shape, or form. I would bet that MySQL is now looking into reorganizing themselves so that they can fork InnoDB and continue development.

Anyway, until Oracle says or does something, we will remain mystified as to the purpose of this acquisition. Although, Oracle has been buying companies like crazy for the past few years. We will just have to wait and see.

posted by Chris  #5:53 PM | 0 comments |