TECH ANALYSIS: IBM has DB2, not to mention Informix, while Sun Microsystems has MySQL. Will one trump the others? eWEEK Labs examines the overlap and synergies between IBM's and Sun's database platforms, and what customers should expect should an acquisition go forward.
What would a possible IBM acquisition of Sun Microsystems
mean to the database software these two companies provide? eWEEK Labs has looked at the overall picture
, and here I drill down into the database space.
Last year, Sun acquired MySQL, which is the maker of the open-source
database MySQL. Although involved in the open-source PostgreSQL and
Java DB projects, Sun previously had no database software. MySQL is
available either as an open-source product or under a traditional
(for-pay) license. The traditional license includes support and access
to network monitoring software not available under the open-source
license. Online reports claim that MySQL has more than 11 million
IBM, of course, has its competing DB2 database technology, which is
not open source. DB2 includes many different editions, including a
mobile version and versions for Windows and Linux.
If IBM acquired Sun (and, in turn, the MySQL technology), it would
not be the first time IBM acquired a competing database technology. In
addition to DB2, IBM has Informix in its product stable. IBM purchased
the Informix technology in 2001, and at the time reports said Informix
had more than 100,000 installations. When this happened, I remember
hearing concerns that Informix would be shuttered. But this did not
happen. In fact, IBM has positioned DB2 and Informix separately, while
sharing technology between them.
So, one might assume that IBM would do the same thing with MySQL,
continuing it as a separate product. MySQL, in turn, could inherit some
technology from DB2 and even Informix.
However, according to a report in late 2007
six years after the acquisition of Informix, the number of Informix
installations dropped drastically, to 20,000, with no information from
IBM about where these users went. (Did they migrate to IBM's own DB2
product? Did they switch to a competing product from Oracle or
Should MySQL customers worry that they might find themselves forced to choose another product?
It's important to remember that this is Informix
we're talking about, a product that has had a very difficult history
MySQL, on the other hand, has positioned itself solidly, with an
enormous (and rather proud) user base. It would be hard to imagine that
MySQL users would migrate away from the database, especially those
using the open-source license, considering that the product has
remained solid (including the open-source licensing) even after Sun
acquired it. Users didn't leave, and development on MySQL has continued.
Of course, we can't know for sure what would happen if IBM were to
acquire Sun; all we can do is speculate. In my opinion, then, if such a
deal does go down, MySQL would start to receive technology from DB2 and
even Informix, and it would continue to grow as a separate
product-comfortably positioned in the open-source world with optional
licenses, just like it currently is under Sun.
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