Versant Corporation

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Versant Corporation
Database management
FateAcquired by Actian (2012; 12 years ago (2012))
ProductsObject Database
RevenueIncrease 25,3 million USD (2008)[1] Edit this on Wikidata

Versant Corporation was an American-based software company building specialized NoSQL data management systems. Versant was founded in Menlo Park, California (USA) in 1988. It was headquartered in Redwood City, California.

It was noted in 2005 that the market share for object oriented databases held by Versant was "very small" compared to IBM and Oracle.[2] However, two years earlier, Versant ODBMS and IBM UniData were mentioned side-by-side as "two of the most recent examples of object-oriented database software" in a bestselling database design text.[3]


The company was founded by Dr. Kee Ong in August 1988 as "Object Sciences Corporation". Ong previously worked with the open-source relational database management system Ingres. Around this time object-oriented programming (OO) became popular, and the company used research done at the University of Wisconsin[4] for a commercial database system to complement OO languages. The company's initial executive team included Michael Seashols (CEO), Dr. Kee Ong (CTO), John Hughes (VP, Sales), Dr. Mary Loomis (VP, Services) and Susan Dickerson (VP, Business Development).

In early 1990 the company was renamed “Versant Object Technology.” In April 1993 David Banks took over as CEO.[5] On July 18, 1996 Versant had their initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ stock exchange and traded under the symbol VSNT.[6] The company raised $14.9 million from the IPO, and was based in Menlo Park, California at the time, but moved to Fremont, California in 1997.[6] In January 1998 Nick Ordon succeeded Banks as CEO.[7] on July 15, 1998 the company was renamed again to Versant Corporation.[8]

In the 1990s, Versant went through a period where most of their R&D costs were spent on "maintaining and upgrading existing product releases" across a LARGE number of operating systems and hardware. According to a former VP of engineering, outsourcing this maintenance grind of R&D maintenance to India was the main action that allowed the company to survive the decade.[9]

In March 2004, Versant acquired Poet Software GmbH, a European-focused company targeting the Windows product market which had traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In 2005, Jochen Witte, president of Poet Software, took over as CEO of Versant Corporation. In August 2005, the common stock had a 1-for-10 reverse stock split. On December 1, 2008 Versant acquired the assets of the database software business of Servo Software, Inc. (formerly named db4objects, Inc.). It developed the open source embedded database technology db4o.[1][8]

The original implementation of Versant was targeted at C, C++ and Smalltalk users. In 1995 Versant introduced support for the Java programming language and then in 2009 for C# and the .NET platform. In 2012 Versant introduced Versant JPA, a Java Persistence API 2.0 compliant interface for its object database, with a technical preview of an analytics product including Apache Hadoop support.

In late 2012, after rejecting an offer by UNICOM Systems Inc., Versant Corporation announced it was being acquired by Actian Corporation, the commercial developer of Ingres and Vectorwise. The acquisition was promoted using the marketing term big data.[10] It closed in December for an estimated $37 million.[11]


Versant Object Database was renamed Actian NoSQL Database and it's currently used as the metadata store for Avalanche, Actian's cloud data warehouse offering based on VectorH, an MPP version of Vector (formerly known as Vectorwise).

Other than Versant Object Database, Versant marketed two other commercial object-oriented database management systems (OODBMS), Versant JPA and Versant FastObjects, and the open-source database db4o.

  • Versant JPA (now NoSQL JPA) is a JPA 2.0 compliant interface for its object database that includes a technical preview of an analytics platform including Hadoop support.[12] It is available as a server and SDK for use with Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • Versant FastObjects (now NoSQL FastObjects) is a developer-friendly, object-oriented alternative to a relational database for .NET persistence.[13]
  • db4o was an embeddable open-source object database for Java and .NET. db4o was coded in Java and translated to C# by an open-source tool called Sharpen.[14] It was discontinued by Actian in 2014.
Features comparison
NoSQL Database NoSQL JPA NoSQL Fast Objects
C/C++ Yes No Yes
Java No Yes Yes
.NET No No Yes
Enterprise scalability Yes Yes No
Embeddable No No Yes
Minimal administration – no specialized DBA required Yes Yes Yes
Dual client/server caching architecture – improve performance by balancing resources Yes Yes Yes
Multicore scalability – get the most value from your hardware Yes Yes No
No mapping code required – focus on the business problem Yes Yes Yes
Online schema evolution – update your application without downtime Yes Yes Yes

The company also developed a product called "enJin", an infrastructure platform to work with other systems as a "transaction accelerator" by supporting decoupling between J2EE applications and data stores which worked as a type of middleware object cache. IBM suggested the use of Versant enJin as an accelerator in the context of IBM WebSphere applications, which themselves were middleware applications.[15]: 3 


  1. ^ a b "Revenues of $6.0 million for Q4 2008 / Versant acquires db4objects' database business / Share repurchase program announced". Press release. December 4, 2008. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Frömming R, Rausch A (2005). "Chapter V. Migration of Persistent Object Models Using XMI". In Yang H (ed.). Advances in UML and XML-Based Software Evolution. Idea Group Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 1-59140-621-8. Retrieved July 2, 2023 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Hernandez, Michael J. (2003). "Chapter 1 The Relational Database (Beyond the Relational Model)". Database Design for Mere Mortals (2nd ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 21. ISBN 0201752840 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Chou, H.T.; Dewitt, David J.; Katz, Randy H.; Klug, Anthony C. (October 1985). "Design and implementation of the wisconsin storage system". Software: Practice and Experience. 15 (10): 943–962. doi:10.1002/spe.4380151003. S2CID 40376932.
  5. ^ Versant Object Technology (April 30, 1997). "Proxy Statement". Schedule 14A. US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Versant Object Technology (March 28, 1997). "Annual Report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 1996". Form 10-KSB. US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  7. ^ Versant Object Technology (April 30, 1998). "Proxy Statement". Schedule 14A. US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Versant Corporation (January 14, 2009). "Annual Report for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2008". Form 10-K. US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Levy, Mitchell (2005). "Some ROI Stories (Case Study: Versant)". Happy about Outsourcing. California, United States: pp. 26–27. ISBN 9780963330222. Retrieved July 2, 2023 – via Internet Archive.
  10. ^ "Giving Thanks for Versant and Actian". Blog. Enterprise Strategy Group. November 26, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  11. ^ Doug Henschen (February 1, 2013). "Actian Builds Mini Big Data Empire". Information Week. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  12. ^ [3] “New Versant JPA Delivers Multiple NoSQL Analytics,” Dr. Dobb’s Journal. October 28, 2012.
  13. ^ [5] “FastObjects Tutorial,” YouTube. January 9, 2012.
  14. ^ [6] Db4o website [1] Archived 2012-12-27 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Chhabria, Sanjiv (2002). Accelerating IBM WebSphere Application Server Performance with Versant enJin. IBM International Technical Support Organization – via Internet Archive.