MySQL has had to struggle to overturn its early reputation of being a good, little "departmental-type" database that didn't really scale or offer top-grade security. What do you tell people who cling to that idea? Green: Well, you know, Facebook and Google are pretty big "departments." One of the value propositions we discussed before the acquisition [in January 2008] was that Sun has this worldwide service and support organization. We had the street cred to say, "We will be there for you, seven by 24, 365 [days] on a planetary scale." Frankly, as good as the MySQL team is, their size precluded them from ever being able to advocate that position.
Are they actually replacing huge propriety databases with MySQL?Schwartz: They may not be replacing them; they're just cordoning them off, so they can contain and retire their usage. "Contain and retire"-that's the popular terminology for, "We're not going to be victimized by proprietary vendors anymore. We're moving to free software-the economic model, the innovation model and the community model." They can save a ton of money-everybody can. How can Sun improve its market share against companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle? Schwartz: No matter how phenomenal our sales force is-and it is, precisely because CIOs want to talk to them-we're never going to win by out-hiring and out-visiting our customers. The way we're going to win is by reaching the broadest community possible and then relying upon them to introduce that innovation into the data center as time moves forward. I was with a financial services company in which the CIO was complaining that he had to pay $40 million a year to a proprietary vendor for their database license. He said, "We would love to go to MySQL; we're just worried about its ability to scale." I said, "What's 'scaling' to you?" And he said, "We process about 2 million payments a day." I said, "Do you realize that Facebook processes about a quarter of a million transactions a second?" There's a difference in processing a Facebook transaction and assuring a secure payment transaction, which has compliance and regulatory burdens on it. Schwartz: There is a spectrum of applications, and the places where you require an expensive proprietary database are never going to go away. They're just never going to grow because the majority of the applications in the world aren't going to have those same "soft compliance" requirements wrapped in them. So for the 95 percent of the other applications in your enterprise, which historically would have used that proprietary technology, now you have a wonderful alternative. And, by the way, it's an alternative that's used by some of the largest and most trusted names on the Internet today-with names like Yahoo, Google, Facebook-and globally around the world. I think one of the things that traditionally has affected both technology companies and the media industry has been a challenge of distributing our technology across the world. Moving to free software eliminates for Sun the dependence upon traditional and proprietary distribution vehicles. So now I can use the fact that a developer is interested in a big retailer in China to reach that developer. Just his interest is sufficient for him to look around on the Web, talk to his friends, get a positive brand image of Sun. ... And I think our brand has completely changed in the past couple or three years to be, "These guys are committed and are driving and pushing investment in open source"-and not just with their press releases, but with their R&D budget. And I don't have to be in the same room with him or her to explain to them the value of the technology. They have immediate access to it, to the community. And, by the way, some of them-not all of them-might actually pay for the software. But all of them, bear in mind, are going to pay for the hardware. You can't download free software onto air. You have to download it into a system-systems and storage, and that's a core part of our business as well.
Are they actually replacing huge propriety databases with MySQL?