Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sun to acquire open source database vendor MySQL

It will likely be lost in the shadow of Oracle's acquisition of BEA, but there was another important deal announced today. Sun Microsystems is acquiring MySQL AB, the developer of the leading open source database management system. The deal is for $1 billion.

The deal is a great move for Sun for at least three reasons.
  • It greatly strengthens Sun's position as an open source software provider. The company is already the developer of OpenOffice, an open source product that competes with Microsoft Office.

  • It gives Sun ownership of the "M" in the LAMP software development platform, which refers to the combination of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl, which are used in combination to develop applications entirely with open source tools.

  • It gives Sun access to or strengthens its relationship to a large number of Tier I customers that are users of MySQL, such as Facebook, Google, Nokia, Baidu and China Mobile.
For MySQL, the deal gives the open source database greater access to Sun's customers and distribution/OEM relationships with Intel, IBM, and Dell.

The other thing I like about this deal is that it keeps MySQL out of the hands of Oracle. I don't know whether an Oracle acquisition of MySQL would have encountered problems in terms of anti-trust, but back in 2005 Oracle already acquired one open source database provider, Innobase, which in fact is used as a component in MySQL deployments where there are requirements for high concurrency and row-level locking. Putting MySQL in the hands of Oracle is just a little too much reduction in competition for my liking.

There's an informative press release on the deal on Sun's website.

Also, be sure to read this blog post by Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO and President, about the deal.

Update, Jan 17. Computerworld is reporting that there are quite a few unhappy MySQL customers and that they are hoping Sun will improve the responsiveness of MySQL developers to user contributions.
In agreeing this week to pay $1 billion for MySQL AB, Sun Microsystems Inc. said it hopes to make MySQL's open-source database more attractive to enterprise users. But Sun has a lot of work to do, according to some MySQL users.

And it isn't just technical fixes that are needed, they said. Although Sun described MySQL as "an open-source icon," it also will have to mend fences with users who are unhappy about the database vendor's sales tactics and claim that it has ignored their development suggestions.
Related posts
Oracle does the right thing with open source acquisition
The disruptive power of open source
Oracle bid for Innobase a threat to MySQL?

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