Any news you hear about an open source projects acquisition by one of the large IT vendors brings mixed feelings. The first things you think about is the practical meanings of such a move. MySQL is such an important component of the Internet (it is storing the very words you are now reading..), that the slightest changes in the way MySQL is distributed (currently it’s a completely free,open source project) might cause a real disruption to the growth of information on the Internet.
But the bright side is that if anyone had any doubts, open source again proved it has commercial value, 1 Billion dollars worth in MySQL’s case. MySQL was making money from service and consulting, a strategy that has seen wide adoption in many open source projects, especially in business open source solutions. Large organizations identify the benefits of open source software solutions and are willing to put the money they save in license costs into consulting. MySQL also offered Enterprise versions of its software for additional costs.
I have been using MySQL for over 10 years now. The first web application I built was a web statistic service, aka Google Analytics. I used PHP for the logic and MySQL as a database to store site visitors statistics. MySQL’s popularity has increased dramatically since then,in parallel to PHP and dynamic web applications. MySQL is one of those companies that recognised early on a need in the market (scalable, efficiency storage and retrieval of huge amounts of data), stayed close to its users and community and just created a great product.
I disagree with some of the skepticism raised over the money (1B$) Sun paid for MySQL. Sun is now in a unique position going after large IT budgets. Sun is the only IT vendor that can offer robust,trusted hardware and operating system (Sun Solaris) bundled with the worlds most popular database (MySQL), a development environment (J2EE) and an application server (GlassFish, another open source project). It’s a huge advantage for Sun to be able to go to a CIO of a Fortune 500 company and offer that bundle to run business applications. Sun Solaris is very popular among large organization for running mission critical,high volume applications, which usually run an Oracle database. Sun can now offer MySQL at the fraction of the cost of an Oracle database software.
Sun’s offering is now huge, but not perfect. What is Sun missing? Business applications. Is open source ERP next?