MySQL fills Oracle-consumed hole in database

Open-source database company, with its own storage engine in the works, renews contract with Oracle around InnoDB.

Employees and customers of MySQL got a jolt of concern in October, when Oracle bought Innobase, a small company supplying an important component of the MySQL open-source database.

Now MySQL has a plan to calm any lingering nerves.

The upstart database company is developing its own transactional storage engine, which can effectively be used as a replacement for the Oracle-acquired technology, executives said.

MySQL has also renewed the Innobase contract Oracle inherited. The contract has a term of less than 10 years and calls for Oracle to update Innobase's InnoDB storage engine--as it had been before the acquisition--on the same terms, Marten Mickos, MySQL's CEO.

"It's pretty good having Oracle as a subcontractor."
--Marten Mickos, CEO, MySQL

"Oracle told us that it's business as usual--they don't want to slow us down, and they will fix bugs," Mickos told CNET News.com on Wednesday. "It's pretty good having Oracle as a subcontractor."

The MySQL database can work with different storage engines, including InnoDB. Until now, MySQL has relied on engines written by a third party and bundled with the rest of the database.

Oracle's purchase of InnoDB, which is tuned for business-oriented transaction systems, set off a wave of speculation on Oracle's intentions.

Some wondered whether the move was meant to stall MySQL market momentum or kill a popular MySQL-tied product.

RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady said MySQL's decision to write its own storage engine is a direct response to Oracle's purchase of Innobase and Sleepycat Software, another open-source database Oracle bought that works with MySQL.

"Given the shot across the bow those acquisitions represented and the potential for customer disruption, it probably was in MySQL's best long-term interests to control that technology," O'Grady said.

Innobase was a small company with only five employees, and it didn't represent a large financial outlay for a company of Oracle's size.

But having control over Innobase gave Oracle valuable information on how customers use MySQL, and it offered the potential to rattle customers, O'Grady argued.

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