Oracle bought Sleepycat today. Sleepycat makes a good embedded database product and an XML database built on top of it. I've used the XML database in several projects and found that it's stable and quick. What's more the built-in XQuery engine makes querying with the XML data easy. So, with all that, this announcement could be taken as just another part of MySQL made a strategic blunder by not buying InnoDB to begin with.Oracle's open source shopping spree, but there are likely other, more strategic, stakes in play.
Last November Oracle gobbled up InnoDB. InnoDB is the embedded database system that underlies MySQL. Having the core of your product controlled by your chief competitor isn't a heartwarming development. Sleepycat was seen as a workable replacement for InnoDB. Today's announcement squashed any hope of that.
I certainly can't blame Sleepycat for making the deal. Good for them. On the other hand, this sort of thing points out some clear differences between "open source" and "free" software. MySQL, InnoDB, and Sleepycat are all "open source" but they aren't "free." If they were, there'd be no company to buy. Take Linux as a counter example. Do you think that Microsoft would have bought Linux long ago and put the threat to their own OS to bed if they could? Sure, but fortunately there's nothing to buy. Oracle has effectively cornered MySQL by buying the storage engine they use. Moreover, they accomplished it much more cheaply than they could by buying MySQL outright.
Anyone who relies on free and open source software, should be asking themselves what that means if commercial companies can so easily stall the development of the products they depend. To be sure, someone could build a free replacement for InnoDB--that's the beauty of open source. But it won't be easy or quick. What's more, all that development effort could be put to use in adding features to MySQL.
For non-commercial users, this probably doesn't mean much since the licenses for InnoDB and Sleepycat likely allow them to continue to be used. Commercial users of these products however, don't enjoy the same license terms, as far as I know. MySQL made a strategic blunder by not buying InnoDB to begin with and then failing to consummate a purchase of Sleepycat later. Commercial users of MySQL are left wondering if Oracle could someday come knocking at the door, demanding payment.