Blogosphere: Sun’s MySQL moment

When you spend US$1 billion on an open source company, you have to expect some feedback, and Sun Microsystems got plenty when it decided to buy database firm MySQL.

“MySQL’s open source business model will make Sun’s road to payback a lot steeper than if it had bought a software company with conventional revenues and profits,” wrote Jeff Gould on

“It appears though that the additional features of the Enterprise version are not enough to compensate for the revenue-destroying effects of the free Community alternative. What else could explain the surprising fact that MySQL has quietly filled out its open source portfolio with a closed source proprietary management software tool known as Enterprise Software Monitor?”

Matt Asay, writing on Cnet’s the Open Road Blog, disputed that notion.

“Gould neglects the tremendous value that giving away Community provides to MySQL. From where does he think the company’s sales leads come? From Community, of course. MySQL only recently in the last year started to distinguish between the two versions,” he wrote. “Over time, its ability to convince customers to pay for Enterprise will improve. Adding Sun to the mix will accelerate this.”

John C. Dvorak, blogging on, had the most interesting conspiracy theory.

“I’m close to being convinced that Oracle wanted to buy MySQL to kill the product, but knew that it couldn’t pull off the stunt itself. It would be too obvious, especially to European Union regulators. So it sent in a stooge to do the job,” he said. “The two companies, Sun and Oracle, have been strategic partners for years. On top of that, Sun cannot actually afford to spend a $1 billion on a company producing a mere $60 million in revenue and working outside its core competencies.”

Unlike most vendors, Sun is run by a guy, Jonathan Schwartz, who writes a popular blog of his own. With that in mind, let’s give him the final rebuttal.

“Wherever MySQL is deployed, whether the user is paying for software support or not, a server will be purchased, along with a storage device, networking infrastructure – and over time, support services on high value open platforms. Last I checked, we have products in almost all those categories,” he said. “Having listened to about 10 customers face to face over the past couple days, I’ve heard only one comment, made consistently — ‘Congratulations, this is absolutely fantastic news for all of us!’ I totally agree.”

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