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Sun Backs Apache Derby With Java DB

Apache Derby, a project created by a code donation from IBM, is now a part of Sun Microsystems' solutions.

Sun said it will combine Apache Derby with its patches and call it "Java DB." The move adds yet another database to Sun's increasing support of open source applications.

The Apache Derby project began in August 2004 with IBM's donation of the Java-based Cloudscape relational database application to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

A year later, the project emerged out of Apache incubation, thanks in part to the support of Sun contributions.

Java DB is now integrated for data storage into the Sun Java System Portal Server 7.0. It is also the development database found in the current Sun Java System Application Server, as well as the in-development open source GlassFish project and as a plugin to support the database in Sun's NetBeans IDE 5.0.

At the end of November, Sun made its entire Java Enterprise System available for free.

Jim McHugh, senior director of software portfolio strategy and marketing at Sun, explained that Sun's productizing Java DB is a continuation of the company's effort into the Apache Derby project.

He noted that the integration of Derby as Java DB into Sun's application at this point is also part of the maturation process of how Sun has been able to use Derby and roll it out as a product.

Though Sun is rolling Apache Derby within its application under a different name, McHugh doesn't see Java DB as a "fork," adding that, with the Apache convention it can take some time before a release or patch, even if it is committed by Sun, will become a release.

McHugh noted that Sun wants to be able to give its users the benefit of the Sun patches in its release.

"For the integrity of Apache Derby, if we wanted to call our product 'Apache Derby' we'd have to be exactly up-to-the-minute connected," McHugh explained. "There is a big delta between a fork and just putting a patch out there.

"We've been working on patches for quite some time; we plan on committing everything back to the common, working with the community."

McHugh argued that by backing Derby as the Java DB from Sun it actually propel the project further while still allowing Sun to maintain the integrity of the Apache naming convention and the process that they've setup which Sun respects.

Apache Derby isn't the only open source database that Sun supports. Sun recently announced support for PostgreSQL.

McHugh explained that the support of Derby is a more developer centric support though from a customer use case point of vie the support for both databases is at the same level with Sun committed to supporting customers on both.

"We just believe that in the database space, and especially the open source database space, there is a multi-prong approach needed to meet customers' needs at this stage," McHugh said.

Though Apache Derby is by definition an open source project, McHugh doesn't necessarily see a need for competitive differentiation between what Sun is doing with Derby and what IBM is doing with Derby.

"It's more about what you do with it as opposed to differentiating on the bits," McHugh said. "We'll be making sure it meets customers needs and that the Apache Derby community continues to grow, and I'd expect that IBM would do the same."