SAP, MySQL sign open source database deal

SAP AG said it plans to hand off lead development of its SAP DB database software to MySQL AB and work with MySQL to deliver an enterprise-class version of that company’s namesake open source database.

SAP officials said the agreement with MySQL is an attempt to put increased development muscle behind the open source movement and make it easier for corporate users to deploy Linux-based ERP systems without having to pay big database administration fees.

SAP includes SAP DB with its applications as a free alternative to Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server databases, and it released an open source version of the technology in late 2000. The business applications vendor said SAP DB is being used by about 1,100 customers.

Now MySQL will take over stewardship of the product, said Faheem Ahmed, director of market strategy and collaborative solutions at SAP. That means MySQL’s development and management tools will be able to work with SAP DB, which should help cut the cost of administering the database for users, Ahmed said.

Continued Existence, Support

SAP will continue to support SAP DB installations, for both existing and new customers. MySQL CEO Marten Mickos said his company is taking over the lead role on tasks such as developing new application programming interfaces and testing SAP DB to ensure that it continues to conform to industry standards. SAP DB will still be offered “for a long time,” Mickos said.

But he added that Uppsala, Sweden-based MySQL will start marketing the software under its own name by the fourth quarter and offer a version under a commercial license in addition to the free release. The agreement will also let the company add corporate-oriented technologies in SAP DB to its MySQL database, with the goal of slashing the time it would take MySQL to develop those features on its own.

The agreement with MySQL appears to have the potential to enrich the capabilities of SAP DB, said Charlie Brann, SAP administrator at Swisslog TransLogic Corp. in Denver. Swisslog, which makes materials-handling systems, runs SAP DB with SAP’s flagship R/3 applications. Brann said the upcoming changes should also open up SAP DB to management tools beyond what SAP currently provides.

PeopleSoft Inc. last month announced plans to make all of its business applications available on Red Hat Linux.

But SAP is now putting itself ahead of PeopleSoft and other rivals in terms of open source support, said Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. The agreement with MySQL should also give SAP users more choices when they pick databases to support their ERP applications, she said.

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