Sun's Best Buy Ever: MySQL

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-01-29 Print this article Print

Some people can't believe Sun actually spent a billion dollars for MySQL; I can't believe they got such a great deal.

If you believe my long-time colleague John C. Dvorak, Sun purchasing open-source database power MySQL was "perhaps the worst single event I have ever witnessed in the history of tech mergers and acquisitions." Nonsense! This is Sun's best deal ever.

Besides, the worst technology acquisition of all-time is still Compaq buying DEC. Let us have a moment of silence now for Digital. Sun buying MySQL, on the other hand, isn't just a good deal, it's a great deal.

Some observers are horrified that Sun paid a billion -- $800 million in cash and picking up $200 million in pre-existing MySQL stock options--for MySQL, a company with a 2007 revenue of a mere $53 million. I think this says more about MySQL's failure to effectively transform their open-source software and services into cash than it does about the almost limitless potential of the MySQL DBMS (Database Management System).

Look at where MySQL is already used. Almost every blog and many social networks and content management systems run with MySQL at their heart. When people talk about running Linux as an enterprise server platform, nine times out of 10 what they're actually describing is a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) software stack.

Yes, only a few companies currently pay MySQL for support, but do you know who those customers are? MySQL's customer list includes Google, Nokia and Yahoo. If I were a software vendor, I'd like to have those companies as my customers, wouldn't you?

If you take a long hard look at how MySQL is used in business, here's what you'll see. Besides LAMP stacks, you'll also see it being used in SOA (service-oriented architecture) and Web 2.0 applications. Enterprises, top analyst Dan Kusnetzky of The Kusnetzky Group told me long ago, buy software for one of two reasons: the operating system and associated software stack supports the applications they need or the database supports the applications they need. MySQL supports the applications that 21st century companies need.

Sun is a winner though on both counts. With MySQL, Sun can finally offer companies a complete operating system, DBMS, and software stack. Besides the already existing LAMP stack, Sun can also do well by finally revive Solaris' flagging sales. How? By creating what I'm going to call the SAMJ (Solaris, Apache, MySQL, Java) stack.

I'm editor-at-large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. That's a fancy title that means I write about whatever topic strikes my fancy or needs written about across the Ziff Davis Enterprise family of publications. You'll find most of my stories in Linux-Watch, DesktopLinux and eWEEK. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, I worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects.

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