Java Wakes Up Sleepycat

Sleepycat Software is seeing value in the Java brand. So much so that it
released a new version of its database software, which is written in pure

Based on a write-once, append-only log architecture, the company’s
Berkeley DB Java Edition is significant for Sleepycat in that it keeps them
competitive with other database vendors like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and
MySQL. The software is available for download now from Sleepycat under a
dual-license structure.

“We saw a need in the market for a pure Java version of Berkeley DB database,
driven by the need for portability and ease of
development,” said Sleepycat president and CEO Mike Olson. “We’ve had over four
thousand downloads of Java Edition already, and we are very pleased to see
such high customer interest in our new product.”

The Java Edition offers the same storage services as its current Berkeley
DB engine, but the new product was completely redesigned in Java to take
advantage of Java’s portability and services, such as deeply integrated
threading and Java NIO. Like its original, the new version features full
ACID transactions and recovery for data storage in its native
format. The Java Edition also includes full source code for easier
integration and debugging.

“Berkeley DB Java Edition will, without a doubt, be the de facto standard
Java API for manipulating BTree databases,” said Alex Karasulu, technical
lead for the Apache Directory Project. “We’re so convinced of this that we
are basing the Eve Directory Server on back-ends built using Berkeley DB
Java Edition.”

In addition to the Apache group, Sleepycat said it has also signed
customer deals for its Java Edition with JBoss and the Swiss Institute of
Bioinformatics. Sleepycat said it would market the new version to companies
looking for data-management software used for specific applications,
including data communications, e-commerce and storage.

But how does it stack up against larger players like IBM DB2, Oracle
Database 10g or Microsoft SQL Server? Carl Olofson, IDC’s program director
for information management and data integration software research, told that Sleepycat could actually complement
whatever it was running alongside.

“For instance, a developer could write a DB2 client in Java and embed
Berkeley DB Java Edition as a means of managing data local to the client as
a sort of cache,” Olofson said.

Still, there are differences. For example, DB2’s Java support lets
users — mainly database administrators, or DBAs — write Java-stored
procedures for DB2 running in an enterprise database management context.
Sleepycat’s Berkeley DB Java Edition is different in that users run the DBMS
natively in a Java environment. It also lets ISVs integrate the Berkeley DB
code into their native Java applications and tools without worrying about
compiling, linking, and managing interfaces across modules. In the former
case, the end-user is a database application user in a DBA-managed
environment, whereas in the latter case, the end-user is generally unaware
that a database is even present.”

The addition of Java in Sleepycat’s product line also hints at shifts in
the enterprise market. For vendors, the challenge in the open source era is
to find a business model that enables them to consistently deliver and
support a high-quality open source product and still make a profit.

“The dual-license model seems to be just the approach to deal with that problem — providing the
source code without charge to the open source community while offering the
software under conventional license and maintenance agreements to other
users at an extremely affordable price,” Olofson said.

Sleepycat’s new version is also significant for Java, Olofson points out,
as it gives the programming language one more avenue to move into more
high-performance enterprise computing systems.

“Java has simply taken over as the de facto standard for most new
development on UNIX and Linux systems, and has become a key language on
other platforms as well,” Olofson said.

“Now that Sun and Microsoft have
buried the hatchet, one can expect to see more Java development for Windows,
as well. Java offers the user flexibility of deployment, promising the
ability to run its software on a wide range of devices from mainframes to
RISC systems to Intel systems to PDAs. In a sense, both open source and Java
are all about freedom of choice. Open source
offers ultimate understanding and control of the software, and Java offers
ultimate flexibility in deployment of that software.”

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