Q: How so – aren’t they just another embedded database vendor?
A: While they’re not as high profile as a platform like MySQL – possibly because it’s not the traditional SQL based RDBMS – Berkeley DB’s a very interesting technology. As Sleepycat’s Rex Wang says in a comment to Mike Olson’s announcement post here:We conservatively estimate that there are 200 million copies of Berkeley DB running out there. Berkeley DB is in every copy of Linux, every distro, whether it’s server, desktop or embedded. It’s also in every copy of BSD Unix, so OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc. Every copy of OpenLDAP and sendmail uses us. Every copy of OpenOffice and StarOffice (Sun estimates 40 million are out there). 3 million Motorola cellphones. Many copies of Movable Type, Subversion and Apache HTTP server.
Q: How about Zend as a lever against competitors – are there opportunities to exploit there as well?
A: Potentially, although in a less direct fashion then say the pickup of JBoss might allow. IBM, for example, was quicker out of the gate in seeing the opportunity around PHP and partnering with Zend than was Oracle – but might Oracle pull the rug out by taking the next step?
Q: So you don’t believe that Oracle can, in effect, buy the respective JBoss (and associated communities where it employs devs), PHP and Berkeley DB communities?
A: No, I don’t. It’s not really a question of licensing (JBoss is LGPL, PHP is BSD, and Berkeley DB uses the OSI approved Sleepycat Public License) – or forking (Sleepycat, for example, owns their IP which why they are able to dual license their product), it’s more a question of community dynamics. The attractiveness of the above projects is predicated not solely on their technical merits – maybe not even primarily – but on their popularity. If any vendor thinks that it can uniformly impose its will on a large scale community of developers, they’re in for a surprise. Those developers, in most cases, have alternatives they can and will turn to – Geronimo in the case of JBoss, Ruby/Python/Perl in the case of PHP, and a variety of datastores with respect to Berkeley DB – should they begin to get the impression that they’re being pushed around.