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Oracle adds to database portfolio with TimesTen

Company bulks up its database portfolio with a small company that sells software for rapidly handling customer data and transactions.

Oracle is bulking up its database portfolio with TimesTen, a small company that sells software for rapidly handling customer data and transactions.

The acquisition, announced Thursday, is expected to close at the end of July. The purchase price was not disclosed.

TimesTen sells "real-time" data processing software, which is used in applications such as securities trading and large-scale telecom billing. The 9-year-old company is based in Mountain View, Calif. The majority of TimesTen's 90 employees will be retained, according to Oracle.

"We focus on applications where milliseconds matter," James Groff, chief executive officer at TimesTen, said during a conference call. "We are optimized for situations where all activity data fits into the main memory of a computer."

For example, TimesTen's software is used by wireless operators to make several calculations during a call, such as the caller's balance and the right tariff to use, explained Groff.

The company has about 1,500 customers.

Venture-backed TimesTen, which was spun off of Hewlett-Packard, is already aligned with Oracle's database technology. The company's database caching product, for example, only works with Oracle's database, which is widely used in large corporations.

By buying the company, Oracle gains tools for storing data and transactions in a server computer's memory, rather than on disk. That in-memory data storage and caching capability provides tools coveted by Oracle's high-end customers with demanding data-processing jobs, said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle database server technologies.

Mendelsohn said on the conference call that TimesTen technology complements Oracle's database in that it is often used in the "middle tier," or in the servers that run business programs, rather than in database servers that retrieve data.

"We have a lot of common customers who use both our products together. Now we'll be able to provide a much more complete solution both in the back end and the middle application tier," Mendelsohn said.

Oracle intends to combine the two companies' engineering groups and provide support for TimesTen customers. TimesTen's products will be sold standalone, rather than be bundled with Oracle's database or application server, Mendelsohn said.

TimesTen's real-time software can also work with application-to-application messaging software to automatically trigger a program following an event, such as the sale of stock. Some analysts predict that an event-based programming model and software will become more common in coming years.

Competitors of TimesTen include embedded database vendors and specialized, privately backed companies, said Groff. Database luminary Michael Stonebraker, for example, founded a company called StreamBase for real-time data management.

The deal follows Oracle's recent string of purchases of business application providers, including PeopleSoft and Retek.