Feeds

Server sales drive Sun's MySQL strategy

Underpants Gnomes take charge

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

SugarCon 2008 Sometimes it takes a faker to say it like it is. Taking time out from satirizing alpha-male Larry Ellison and dissing the sainted Ray Ozzie's timelessly clunky Lotus Notes, Fake Steve Jobs - AKA Forbes senior editor Daniel Lyons - got serious for a moment Wednesday as he opened SugarCRM's developer conference.

Turning to Sun Microsystems' $1bn acquisition of MySQL Lyons said: "I like Marten Mickos [MySQL chief executive] a lot, but my fear is that deal means it's the death of MySQL. I don't know they can withstand the kind of sheer incompetence Sun can throw at them."

With the stillbirths and misfires of iPlanet, Sun ONE and StarOffice in Sun's software past, we know what he means.

"They [Sun] are trying to become ground zero for open source," Lyons continued. "They could have done this for years... but they drifted. Their DNA is about proprietary software and serves."

Oh the irony and the accuracy. Just a few hours later, Sun's chief executive Jonathan Schwartz took the SugarCon stage to champion the deal as a way for Sun to sell more, yes, servers and storage - you know, all that stuff developers are well known for buying. Sun will also use MySQL with a bevy of Sun projects like Glassfish and OpenSolaris to deny rivals middleware revenue as start-ups pick the "free" product over competitors' charged-for software.

Problem there of course is that the free stuff has to actually be worth using.

Fortunately, MySQL is worth using as its rocket-powered uptake has proven, which should provide a ready base of developers Sun can support and nurture. According to Schwartz, MySQL gives Sun access to 11 million customers.

Here's the real problem, though, and it's a problem that possibly meant Mickos welcomed Sun's interest having devised volume licensing to try to monetize MySQL. Just a tiny percentage of those 11 million pay for their software.

Being a popular open source software product like MySQL doesn't mean you've got it made. And in this case, support from Sun is most likely to come in the form of flogging the people who employ developers working with MySQL more hardware as it too tries to figure out how to charge for MySQL, to cover its costs.

"Free software requires a server and storage, and that's the business we are pretty interested in," Schwartz said. Oh, and there was something about community, too. "But first and foremost, we are interesting in amplifying the community of MySQL," he said.

If Sun does have a plan for MySQL, it revolves around scalability - the kind of thing Sun does best. "We are going to be scaling MySQL," Schwartz promised. "The problem with MySQL is customers keep saying: 'We want bigger instances.' And that's a great problem to have." Especially if you own a multi-cored chipset and server operating system.

With plenty of enthusiasm but no track record in successfully developing profitable software or of cultivating open source projects outside its own efforts, then Sun is unlikely to be the best home for MySQL as the new owner's end game remains hardware sales. That's doubly true if, as Fake Steve Jobs noted, Sun's strategy for making money from MySQL is coming from the same place as its software strategy of previous years - the playbook of South Park's Underpants Gnomes. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.