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Sun bundles servers in MySQL blankets

Keeping sales warm in a cold world

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You're Sun Microsystems. You have a server lineup you brag about all the time. You have one of the best operating systems in the world in Solaris. And you shelled out $1bn in cold, hard cash to acquire the most popular open source database in the world, MySQL.

And now you have figured out that it might be a good idea to sell preconfigured bundles of hardware, software, and services set up explicitly for particular database-driven workloads. Make it a little easier for everyone to do deals.

Starting today, Sun is offering five server and MySQL bundles, all of them supporting its Solaris x64 or Sparc machines (in one form factor or another) and sometimes supporting Linux and Windows. The bundles machines are being offered in conjunction with Sun's Try and Buy program, offering shops a 20 per cent discount off the cost of the bundled machine if they decide to keep it after trying it.

Welcome to 1978, when IBM launched the System/38 minicomputer with an integrated relational database management system and hardware and a systems software stack tuned for database-driven workloads. Or 1984, when the Teradata data warehousing system went into production, a system that was conceived in 1979 as an integrated data warehouse using parallel processing and was eventually owned by both AT&T and NCR.

As we report elsewhere, today is also the day that Sun's president and chief executive officer, Jonathan Schwartz, commended President-elect Barack Obama on his victory and reminded everyone that the former candidate's Web sites run on MySQL. Of course, with some 11 million users and a bunch of young and cheapskate webbersnappers controlling the online presences of all kinds of political sites, it is no surprise that MySQL would be used, any more than it would be notable if Linux was the operating system of choice for online applications.

In fact, it would be more surprising if MySQL and Linux were not the defaults, and it would be even more notable if any of these sites actually paid for a supported version of the software, which most MySQL customers apparently do not or Sun would be a heck of a lot richer than it is. In the first fiscal quarter ended in September, Sun had $37m in MySQL and related infrastructure sales, a tiny piece of its nearly $3bn in sales.

A bundling of products is not quite the same thing as deep integration, but for most server and operating system makers, bundling is about as close as they get. And sometimes, they don't even do that. IBM has not put DB2 inside its z/OS or AIX operating systems and tightly integrated them (as it did for the System/38 and its CPF operating system and integrated database, which didn't even have a name).

OpenVMS and rdb were paired and integrated, but Digital sold off rdb to Oracle a decade ago. While Microsoft's SQL Server runs atop only Windows, Microsoft doesn't own hardware and can't therefore do a big bundle. Oracle has dabbled from time to time on hardware-software bundles, most recently with Hewlett-Packard's and Oracle's Database Machine.

Sun's so-called x86 Performance bundle marries one of three different servers (the two-socket X2250 Xeon rack server, the four-socket X4250 Xeon rack server, and the X6250 two-socket blade server) and an optional J4200 disk array and a MySQL Enterprise license with gold level support.

The MySQL virtualization bundle, which is aimed at customers who want to partition their machines with Sun's logical domains instead of using Solaris containers, puts the MySQL Enterprise database with the support on a "Niagara" T5220 rack server or a T6320 blade server and the J4200 array.

The MySQL rich media bundle puts an X4540 "Thumper" storage server together with J4200, J4400, and J4500 disk arrays plus Solaris and the Zettabyte File System, and is intended, as the name suggests, for using MySQL for streaming audio and video media storage. The MySQL multi-tier deployment bundle puts clustered MySQL instances on X2250 Xeon servers and J4200 disk arrays. And the final bundle is the MySQL backup bundle, which puts MySQL Enterprise with all the support goodies on an X4540 Thumper server and adds Zmanda's ZRM for MySQL backup and recovery software.

There is no indication that these bundles have something that most hardware-software bundles usually have: discounts off the individual price of the components going into the bundle. But Sun most certainly does discount its sales, and there is no way any customer will buy these bundles without a discount of some sort from either Sun or its reseller channel.

Incidentally, this is not Sun's first attempt at MySQL server bundling. These two bundles announced in February 2008 were first and used Opteron-based X4100 M2 and X4200 M2 servers and StorageTek arrays paired with MySQL licenses and an unknown operating system. These bundles came with a 15 per cent discount on the hardware. Of course, 15 per cent off is no big deal in this market. ®

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