MySQL wants to launch a global project to build a massive, distributed repository containing all of the world's data now stored in structured databases, the company's chief executive said yesterday.

While search engines like the one from Google aim to give people access to unstructured data on the web, this "database in the sky" would make structured data available to application developers and internet entrepreneurs, said the open source database chief, Marten Mickos at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

The data repository would be to database access what eBay's Skype is to internet telephony, and it would create the next-generation online analytical processing (OLAP) engine for data analysis and discovery, Mickos said.

The project seeks to apply the open-source model to data, so that developers worldwide could share and aggregate data, he said. "Then the data would be the platform," Mickos said. He envisions, for example, being able to tap into all of the world's structured databases that have weather information.

He added that it would probably be required to build "a DNS of SQL servers," address likely routing obstacles and make data definitions understandable and accessible to others. It would also be necessary for the data owners to have a willingness to make their database contents available.

But the most important ingredient will be to assemble a community of collaborators and volunteers willing to work on the project. The database wouldn't be monolithic but rather function on a peer-to-peer principle, he said.