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Update: MySQL buys company, hires noted database architect

It acquires Netfrastructure -- and gets company founder and President Jim Starkey in the deal

By James Niccolai
February 27, 2006 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - MySQL AB said today that it has acquired a small Web application technology company and in the process hired its founder, Jim Starkey, a noted database software architect.

MySQL said it acquired Netfrastructure Inc., a privately held U.S. company that makes tools and server software for building Web-based applications, for an undisclosed sum. Starkey, who was Netfrastructure's founder and president, becomes a senior software architect at MySQL, the company said.

The move follows Oracle Corp.'s recent acquisition of two open-source database companies, Innobase Oy and Sleepycat Software Inc., and was seen by some as a defensive move by MySQL to strengthen its development team and provide new options for the future development of its open-source database.

Before Netfrastructure, Starkey founded Interbase Software Corp. and developed its relational database of the same name. Interbase claimed to be the first database to incorporate several features that are now widely used, including event alerts, triggers and support for BLOBS (binary large objects). Starkey also designed the former Digital Equipment Corp.'s relational database architecture, MySQL said.

Interbase Software was eventually acquired by Borland Software Inc., which released the software's code to the open-source community. That led to the creation of the Firebird open-source database project, for which Starkey was a contributor.

MySQL also hired Ann Harrison, who is Starkey's wife and a contributor to Interbase's development, and Taneli Otala, chief technology officer at security analytics company SenSage Inc. Otala, who once worked at Oracle, becomes MySQL chief technology officer, the company said.

Starkey's move to MySQL led to speculation that the company plans to move its database to the Firebird architecture to counter Oracle's open-source acquisitions. Innobase and Sleepycat made two of the popular database transaction engines used with MySQL's database.

A MySQL spokeswoman said it is "incorrect" that the Uppsala, Sweden-based company plans to adopt the Firebird architecture, however. The company hired Starkey, Harrison and Otala to "help us deliver on all the plans that we haven't had time to pursue yet -- and also supply us with lots of fresh ideas," MySQL said.

Others have speculated that Starkey will develop a new transactional engine for MySQL.

"I'll be interested to see what he works on. First will presumably be the defensive task of building a long-overdue transaction engine," wrote Ian Gilfillan, author of the book Mastering MySQL 4, in a posting in his blog last week, when Starkey first leaked word of his new job.

Kaj Arno, MySQL's vice president for community relations, didn't rule out that possibility but said no decision has been made. "It's a bit too early to speculate what his tasks would involve," he said.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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