Sun Bets MySQL Can Penetrate Mission-Critical Deployments

By Brian Prince  |  Posted 2008-01-16

Sun Bets MySQL Can Penetrate Mission-Critical Deployments

Officials at Sun Microsystems are placing a $1 billion bet that the acquisition of MySQL AB will create a strong opportunity for deeper penetration of the enterprise market by open-source databases.

Calling it the biggest acquisition in the history of Sun, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said the move holds an enormous opportunity for growth for both companies.

"The single biggest impediment to the growth of MySQL in our their ability to give peace of mind to a global company that wants to put MySQL into mission-critical deployments, and it is very clear to us that that is what our customers have come to expect from Sun and we can deliver exactly that peace of mind...and that's exactly what we'll be focused on immediately as we prepare to put the two companies together," he said in a conference call.

Sun is no stranger to the open-source community, and company officials have said they are committed to enhancing the LAMP stack on GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, OpenSolaris and MAC OS X.

"It is a big jump in the potential business for MySQL," said Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg, in an interview with eWEEK. "I do think from an industry standpoint this is something that is pretty major because this is something that will add credibility to open source DBMS. But what I think what this really does is put a tremendous pressure on Oracle, IBM, Sybase and Microsoft from a pricing standpoint, because this makes it real - and now they are going to have to wake up. Are you going to spend $8,000 a server or $40,000 a core?"

A study by the Independent Oracle Users Group released in October reported that open-source databases are not typically serving as large data stores, and 74 percent of those respondents using open-source databases were using MySQL.

Jasmine Noel, an analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates LLC, speculated Oracle's purchase of BEA on the same day as Sun's announcement may not be mere happenstance.

"Yeah, on the same day that Oracle finally buys BEA - coincidence? I don't think so," she said. "Sun's purchase gives enterprise customers some level of comfort that MySQL will continue to compete against the big consolidators - Oracle, Microsoft [and] IBM. Since Sun does have a good open-source history they can give that financial protection without stifling the culture or product."

Growing Relevance in the Enterprise

Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB, said adoption of the company's database will grow as enterprises continue to build Web-based architectures.

"MySQL was designed and developed for the online network world," he said during the conference call with Sun executives. "All other databases in the market today were designed for back-office use in an off-line world. So we're uniquely designed for that, and our relevance grows in enterprises as they shift over to Web-based architectures, which is what is happening right now."

An interesting foil in the deal is Sun's pursuit of a PostgreSQL strategy for the past few years, said Matthew Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group.

"One issue not mentioned in the announcement is that Sun has pursued a PostgreSQL strategy in the last two years, and this deal does raise questions about Sun's investment in PostgreSQL and its relationship with Oracle," he said.

Schwartz said the company remains committed to both the MySQL and PostgreSQL communities.

"We are reaffirming our commitment to [the PostgreSQL] community today in part by saying that we believe in the future of open-source databases so much so that we just put $1 billion behind one of them. We are firmly committed in figuring out the ways we can optimize and integrate innovations across the two communities."

Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, noted his company has a long partnership with Oracle that will continue.

"Oracle isn't just an application that runs on [Sun] technology," he said during the conference call. "We have hundreds and hundreds of engineers who work closely with that organization to optimize our systems and our platforms and their software to perform at a world-class level with regard to running our joint accounts. And we're going to keep investing in that, and keep doing that. It's vital to our business."

When the acquisition is complete, MySQL's Mickos will be joining Sun's executive management group and will play a central as Sun continues to refine and develop its open-source strategy, Schwartz said.

"This is all about growth for both of us, all about investing in the community that surrounds both companies and both companies' products, and all about delivering better service to customers and ultimately better value to our shareholders."

Rocket Fuel