Open source database vendor MySQL AB has responded to Oracle Corp’s Innobase Oy and Sleepycat Software Inc purchases by making an acquisition of its own, snapping up Netfrastructure Inc and in doing so the employment of two of the driving forces behind the Firebird open source database.
Netfrastructure’s founder Jim Starkey is the creator of the InterBase database, and therefore the Firebird open source fork. Firebird project administrator, and Starkey’s wife, Ann Harrison, is also a Netfrastructure employee and will also join MySQL, according to a posting from Starkey to the Firebird mailing list that confirmed MySQL’s acquisition.
It’s not clear at this stage precisely what roles Starkey or Harrison will have at Uppsala, Sweden-based MySQL, but the blogoshere is alive with suggestions that they will help the company to plug the perceived transactional engine hole left following Oracle’s purchase of Innobase Oy in October 2005. Innobase was home to InnoDB, MySQL’s storage engine of choice.
In his posting Starkey noted that MySQL’s acquisition is focused on Netfrastructure’s platform, rather than Firebird, but that has not stopped some commentators, including Firebird Foundation committee member Mauricio Longo, from speculating that MySQL will be adopting Firebird as its storage engine.
That seems unlikely given Starkey’s comment that: MySQL and Firebird have never seen each other as competitors and I doubt this will change in the future. The projects have different open source philosophies, different technologies, different customer bases, and different sweet spots.
MySQL did not respond to a request for comment by press time but last week stated that it continues to negotiate with Oracle on an extension to the existing MySQL/InnoDB relationship, is working internally and with partners on a number of alternative transactional engines and plans to provide more details about our storage engine strategy and roadmap at the MySQL users conference in April.
Recent rumors had indicated that MySQL was working on a development deal with Sleepycat to come up with an InnoDB replacement, although Oracle’s VP of technology marketing Robert Shimp last week denied there was an arrangement between MySQL and the open source embedded database specialist.
Netfrastructure was formed in October 2002 to offer a web development and deployment environment based around Starkey’s idea of separating content, presentation and logic layers into a content store presentational engine, and Java Virtual Machine respectively.
During a distinguished career Starkey has developed a number software products including Digital Equipment Corp’s Datatrieve 4GL data manipulation and reporting tool, and the HarborView cross platform object-orientated visual application development tool, as well as InterBase.
The history of the InterBase product is a complicated one. It was acquired by Ashton-Tate in the late 1980s before Aston-Tate was itself acquired by Borland Software Corp in 1991.
In early 2000 Borland announced plans to open source the InterBase code and spin off a new company, InterBase Software Corp, under the management of Harrison. While the code was open sourced, the spin-off never happened, prompting a group of enthusiasts to start the Firebird project at SourceForge.