The database development started in 1977 as a research project at the Technical University of Berlin headed by Rudolf Munz. In the early 1980s it became a database product that subsequently was owned by Nixdorf Computer, Siemens-Nixdorf, Software AG and today by SAP AG. It has at various times been named VDN, RDS, Reflex, Supra 2, DDB/4, Entire SQL-DB-Server and Adabas D. In 1997 SAP acquired the software from Software AG and developed it as SAP DB, releasing the source code under the GNU General Public License in October 2000.
In 2003 SAP AG and MySQL AB jointly re-branded the database system to MaxDB. In October 2007 this reselling agreement was terminated and sales and support of the database reverted to SAP. SAP AG now manages MaxDB development, distribution, and support. New versions of the source code of MaxDB are no longer available under the GNU General Public License. SAP also stated that "Further commercial support concepts to cover mission critical use requirements outside of SAP scenarios are currently subject to discussion."
MaxDB since version 7.5 is based on the code base of SAP DB 7.4. Therefore, the MaxDB software version 7.5 can be used as a direct upgrade of previous SAP DB versions starting 7.2.04 and higher.
MaxDB is delivered with a set of administration and development tools. Most tools are available with both a GUI and command line interface (CLI). It offers bindings for JDBC; ODBC; SQLDBC (native C/C++ interface); precompiler; PHP; Perl; Python; WebDAV; OLE DB, ADO, DAO, RDO and .NET via ODBC; Delphi and Tcl via Third Party Programming Interfaces. MaxDB is cross-platform, offering releases for HP-UX, IBM AIX, Linux, Solaris, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and up to Microsoft Windows 10."Upgrade to SAP MaxDB Database 7.9 on Windows" (PDF). Retrieved 6 December 2017.
5.3 Installing or Upgrading Database Studio for SAP MaxDB
MaxDB offers built-in hot backup, does not need any online reorganizations and claims to be SQL 92 Entry-Level compatible.
MaxDB since version 7.7.00, uses multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) instead of the previous lock based implementation.
MaxDB was licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) from versions 7.2 through 7.6. Programming interfaces were licensed under the GPL with exceptions for projects released under other open source licenses.