More Thoughts On Sun+MySQL

Tuesday, 2008-January-22 at 19:18 1 comment

With a little time to let the MySQL acquisition percolate in my mind, I am cautiously optimistic.  It may be just the thing for MySQL's continued progress.  There is always the question of allocation of resources, and of whether oversight is going to be too lax or too strict.  But the really key thing is whether one part of Sun will be restrained because it might compete with the efforts of someone else inside the company.  The addition of at least one more level of reporting could gunk things up a bit.

I have not lived through a big acquisition.  I’ve always been elsewhere when major changes in ownership occurred in my employers.  I have, however, been a part of an organization that had recently joined another, so I have a limited exposure to some of the integration issues.  This ranges from being forbidden to use the old logo, because it does not conform to the new parent organization's standards, to not being able to order office supplies until the new parent issues its standards and announces its preferred suppliers.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO, is also a blogger.  There are many challenges that Sun faces, but I think that questing for openness is likely to be the thing that saves their grits.  I see the MySQL purchase as a part of this quest for openness—a returning to their roots, so to speak, Sun having started with open, BSD-based products as their core.

One thing is sure.  MySQL's continued growth has been crimping Oracle's plans.  I think that Oracle's purchases of Innobase and Sleepycat were aimed directly at MySQL, attempting to cut the company off at its knees.  With Sun getting involved, I think Oracle now faces a more formidable competitor.  This also goes for Ingres's database product and Microsoft's SQL Server product across much of its range.  Jonathan says it best:

But as I pointed out, we heard some paradoxical things, too. CTO’s at startups and web companies disallow the usage of products that aren’t free and open source. They need and want access to source code to enable optimization and rapid problem resolution (although they’re happy to pay for support if they see value). Alternatively, more traditional CIO’s disallow the usage of products that aren’t backed by commercial support relationships – they’re more comfortable relying on vendors like Sun to manage global, mission critical infrastructure.

This puts products like MySQL in an interesting position. They’re a part of every web company’s infrastructure, to be sure. And though many of the more traditional companies use MySQL (from auto companies to financial institutions to banks and retailers), many have been waiting for a Fortune 500 vendor willing to step up, to provide mission critical global support.

One intriguing possibility that has occurred to me is that MySQL can use some of the additional resources to implement a native XML data type (possibly through an optional extension), with built-in support for searching and indexing valid and well-formed HTML 4, XHTML 1.0/1.1, and ODF documents.  This would be very beneficial, because it would make it easy for anyone using the MySQL database software to gain the ability to handle ODF documents.  As far as I know, no one inside of either company has even considered this yet.  So maybe someone will see this and suggest it at the next planning session.

Hey, I can hope, can't I?

Entry filed under: Open Source. Tags: .

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