Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle, Sun, MySQL

So Oracle is to buy Sun now. Well, that makes sense. I guess I jumped ship just in time then. People started congratulating me yesterday that I avoided being an Oracle employee. :-) Although I was de facto a MySQL employee for a while; not sure which is worse.

John Dvorak, possibly of of the most tracked-back men these days, apparently knew all along that the acquisition of MySQL by Sun was just a proxy deal for Oracle. Now with IBM nearly snatching up Sun, I guess Oracle had to react.

The question inevitably arose, what will this mean for PostgreSQL. Probably not much. For one thing, you'd be overestimating the impact that Sun has on anything these days. ;-) The acquisition of MySQL by Sun eventually led to the (very small) PostgreSQL business at Sun being phased out, and it is possible that whatever is left will now fade away even more. But it really hasn't impacted the PostgreSQL community much, and won't do so now.

On the contrary, open-source databases, both MySQL and PostgreSQL, have always (at least since they became credible) been considered the anti-Oracle proposition. Now with MySQL actually owned by Oracle, this makes PostgreSQL the primary alternative. Considering the sometimes irrational but not insignificant ill-will that the Sun acquisition has spread among open-source database enthusiasts, it is easy to imagine how even worse this will impact MySQL's reputation on perception alone.

One might of course also think that Oracle now has a devilish plan to corner the database market from both sides. But it would be too presumptuous to assume that Oracle spends $7 billion on an anti-PostgreSQL plan. In some way, this basically only continues the path that Oracle started on when it bought Sleepycat and InnoDB a few years ago, and the impact of that on the open-source database field was pretty minimal.

I don't expect that MySQL will be "killed" either. It is too valuable as a "foot in the door" in any case. Moreover, much of the MySQL momentum already lies outside of Sun anyway, in the hands of Percona, Open Query, the Monty Program, Drizzle, and others, so killing MySQL is already impossible for a single company. Which is probably a good situation for the extended open-source database community.

What about the rest of Sun? I assume Oracle will be quite interested in Solaris and Java, of course, also Open Storage, Glassfish, and some of the other pieces of middleware that no one outside Sun really knows (yay, Sun marketing). Some of these pieces nicely fill the gaps in Oracle's offerings, reduce the interdependencies of Oracle with IBM and/or solidify the already existing relationships with Sun. The cloud computing initiatives might also be of interest, as Oracle has on occasion tried to become an Internet-enabled company no matter how silly the approach (remember the Network Computer or Oracle 8i/9i?). And as many have commented, keeping OpenOffice.org around just to annoy Microsoft is probably going to be worthwhile even if it doesn't make any money. I won't be surprised, however, if the hardware business, meaning SPARC on the one side, and StorageTek on the other, will be sold to someone else.

What I will be interested in seeing is whether Oracle can do a better job exploiting the vertical integration story that Sun has been been pushing for basically two decades but has repeatedly failed to deliver on. (Like MySQL not building on SPARC (at some point), and JavaFX not being available for OpenSolaris.)

I do feel sorry for the people at MySQL, who will have to readjust to a new employer and probably a new strategy and a few more sets of reorgs for the second time in less than two years. And all this a day before the MySQL Conference, which will now probably be completely distracted by this news. Add the conspicuous absence of any mention of MySQL in the official announcements, and the uncertainty couldn't be greater.


  1. So there goes your chance to subvert Oracle. :-)

  2. "From PostgreSQL, Peter Eisentraut writes, 'Now with MySQL actually owned by Oracle, this makes PostgreSQL the primary alternative. [...]"

    Log Buffer #143

  3. Feel sorry for MySQL employees? Why? MySQL had EVERY opportunity to protect their hard work from being flushed in this manner - But they chose to be just as greedy as the rest of them.

    The real lesson for open source users is to reject non gpl restrictive licenses because they are only in place for "the big payoff" - and when that happens, YOU as a developer have to go through pain just because some assholes are greedy.

  4. Super agree with the anonymous above.