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IBM Has MySQL's Back

Who says never the twain shall meet between open source and proprietary?

In a deal that epitomizes the phrase "cooperative competition," IBM  agreed to allow MySQL AB's open source database to run on its System i computer server.

The companies, which compete in the lower end of the multi-billion-dollar database market, announced the partnership at the MySQL Conference & Expo 2007 in Santa Clara, Calif.

IBM and MySQL said in a statement the companies will offer the MySQL Server for IBM's System i operating system, i5/OS. The vendors will also make DB2 for i5/OS a certified MySQL storage engine on System i machines.

The engine will plug into the MySQL Server and be managed as any other storage engine within the database server. This will allow System i customers to run MySQL applications while storing data in a DB2 database, with MySQL and DB2 sharing data between the applications.

Finally, IBM's reseller network and System i sales personnel will resell MySQL Enterprise subscriptions, which include MySQL database software, services and support.

Financial terms of the deal were not made public.

MySQL, which popularized the model of offering free database software to customers and charging them for support, can benefit from selling into an area it couldn't go before, making open source MySQL and PHP applications available to System i users.

IBM gets to offer customers more software choices for its System i customers, something the company stresses as crucial as it seeks to compete with systems rivals HP, Sun Microsystems and Dell.

This isn't the first time IBM and MySQL have hooked up.

A spokesperson for MySQL pointed out that IBM joined the MySQL Network Certified Partner Program last year, which entitles Big Blue's WebSphere DataStage customers running MySQL Network to a certified ETL and data-integration solution supported by both companies. MySQL also integrates with IBM's WebSphere Application Server, Rational and Lotus Domino products.

MySQL kicked off its Network program two years ago at the LinuxWorld show in Boston.

While IBM and MySQL put on the cozy face in Santa Clara, make no mistake: The two still compete fiercely in the lower end of the market.

IBM and fellow proprietary database market leaders Oracle  and Microsoft were so concerned about MySQL's open source model and success that they all released free, scaled-down versions of their database servers in the last few years.

IBM issued DB2 Express-C in January 2006. Oracle trotted out Database XE, and Microsoft launched SQL Server 2005 Express in November 2005.

Amid rumors that Oracle was trying to buy MySQL, Oracle instead purchased open source database maker SleepyCat Software last year.

Despite the cache and burble of excitement over successful open source upstarts, analysts assert MySQL and other open source database products constitute a low percentage of the overall database software market.