Database giants scoff at open-source invader

Database giants scoff at open-source invader MySQL AB, not unlike how operating system behemoths once laughed off the Linux phenomenon. But Marten Mickos, CEO of the Uppsala, Sweden-based company, thinks 2003 may be the year the popular open-source database, MySQL, sneaks into the enterprise. Currently, Version 3.2 is the most popular in the market, but MySQL 4.0 ships in about a month, and the alpha release of 4.1, which includes nested SQL queries among other improvements, hits in two weeks. And, Mickos claims, Version 5’s alpha program for later this year will add enterprise-class features such as stored procedures and triggers.

This is old hat to users of DB2, Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase. So much so that when one of the major vendors’ PR reps was asked about enterprise-level competition from MySQL, the amused response was a mocking, “Oh, pleeeze.” And Charlie Garry, an analyst at Meta Group, refers to MySQL as a “bare-bones database,” noting that the Big Four vendors are moving way beyond MySQL’s capabilities with upcoming features that, for example, tie data warehouse functions with OLTP operations. Still, Garry argues that in the coming years, MySQL might very well “follow the same path as Microsoft” with its SQL Server breaking slowly into companies as a departmental database server. He also points out that MySQL’s free GPL license is “seeding the market” for future growth. But for those who want commercial licenses now, you can pick up one for US$395 per server with no per-user charges, many thousands less than you’d pay for Big Four software. And if you download it free from the Internet, you don’t even have to say please.

Competition in the application storage management arena may get less polite with Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas Software Corp.’s planned acquisition of Precise Software Solutions Ltd. in Westwood, Mass. Houston’s BMC Software has long been a partner of Veritas, and Dan Hoffman, BMC’s director of enterprise storage management, refuses to say that the partnership will change, despite more direct competition from Precise’s product line. But Hoffman says he does see the deal as an indicator of more consolidation in an overcrowded market. “There are too many storage software companies that cannot distinguish themselves,” he says. One way BMC hopes to stay ahead of the pack is by adding predictive workload-based modeling features to its application storage management software. No simple task, Hoffman claims. Don’t expect to see it before late 2003. Also, don’t expect to see other applications’ storage needs added to BMC’s Patrol Storage Manager. When asked whether Lotus Notes would be added to a list that includes Oracle, SQL Server, Exchange, Sybase, DB2 and Siebel, Hoffman says nope. “I’ve heard requests for NetWare more often than for Notes.” That puts it way down the list.

While Linux is on most companies’ support lists, it isn’t on Unisys Corp.’s for the foreseeable future. According to David Houseman, VP of advanced technology at the Blue Bell, Pa.-based server maker, the company’s focus is on giving Windows “mainframelike characteristics” on its ES7000 32-way computers. To that end, Unisys will be releasing its Enterprise Application Environment (EAE) for Windows 2000 Data Center and .Net. EAE has been around for years in different guises on the company’s proprietary mainframes. Developers use high-level business rules and let EAE generate Java or .Net source code. Expect to see a beta version late this year.

In February you’ll be able to get your hands on Visual Net 3.0 from Antarctica Systems Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia. CTO Tom Bray, who’s also one of the originators of XML, calls the product a “visual browse engine.” It applies a map metaphor for Web sites, letting users navigate through icons instead of text. The 3.0 release adds Flash support and targets the retail and business intelligence vertical markets with preconceived glyphs and icons so you won’t have to read all those confusing words.