July 8, 2005

db.* proves it's a database survivor

Author: Mary E. Tyler

The open source database db.* (pronounced D B star) has survived proprietary origins and the dot-com bust to find new life as an open source product.

db.* has been in the market for more than 20 years. Originally, it was a proprietary product called dbVista developed by a company called Raima. During the dot-com boom, it was acquired by a company called Centura and released into open source under a modified Mozilla
license. Centura spent millions of dollars to bring the code base up to standards, including overhauling the documentation. However, in 2001, Centura dot-bombed and went belly up, leaving db.* orphaned. Unlike an orphaned proprietary product though, another company could -- and did -- step in.

"It's a shame to let this kind of investment and this kind of effort by top notch engineers go to waste," ITTIA's president Sasan Montaseri says. "We brought [db.*] back and
introduced it to the market and we have been successful with that." In fact, ITTIA counts [international telecommunications giant] Marconi, JC Penney, Moody's Investors, and Ohio State University among its clients.

While db.* may be an interesting alternative, it's no market leader. According to Noel Yuhanna, senior analyst at Forrester Research, db.* remains a small player in a specialized niche. "db.* is not on our radar screen," says Yuhanna. "MySQL and PostgreSQL dominate
the space. For the embedded market, open source databases SleepyCat and Berkley DB are more common."

But ITTIA's Montaseri claims db.* has some technology advantage over proprietary competitors that depend on languages like SQL to get information from the database. Most databases use a relational model, which relies on a set of indexes to get to the records. "Accessing those indexes takes its own time," says Montaseri. db.* uses a hybrid of a

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