Oracle & MySQL

Much has been said about what Oracle would do with MySQL as part of its impending SUN acquisition. While the clearance has come from the US, now it is held up by the European commission for further investigation. Last week at a Churchill Club event, Ed Zander (former President of Sun & Ex-CEO of Motorola) interviewed Larry Ellison where he asked if Oracle would spin off MySQL. Larry answered with an emphatic No.

I thought the one big attraction of the Sun acquisition was MySQL and Java. We can debate whether the hardware business of SUN makes any sense or not. I also know that prior to the MySQL acquisition by Sun, Oracle attempted to buy MySQL. I do not agree with the statement that “MySQL does not compete with Oracle, but its main competition is DB2 and SQL Server”. That can not be true, as several Internet-age companies such as Google and Amazon selected MySQL over Oracle for specific applications. So, yes, MySQL is an attractive alternative to Oracle for some applications. Now that Oracle will be the potential owner of MySQL, it will continue to offer it as the open source offering in database. It can position both Oracle and MySQL for different types of applications – Oracle for heavy lifting with high scalability (with its RAC) and complex functionality. It may even show a migration path for those MySQL users to Oracle deployment when needed.

While speaking with a company in the Identity Protection space, I learnt that the entire system is built on the LAMPJ stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP, Java). The reason was simple – stay with open source and lower the cost, as long as MySQL is an “adequate” solution.

MySQL’s true competition is with other open source database products such as Ingres and Postgress, but it does have a large customer base.  The interesting thing to observe is how much is the overlap between Oracle’s own closed-source database vs MySQL.  Also unknown is,  how much R&D investment Oracle will inject into enhancing MySQL? Will Oracle’s sales force be motivated to push MySQL in the market for additional revenue. The “fee vs free” aspects of MySQL has been a challenge from the beginning. Will customers trust Oracle as the pusher of open source products? Time will tell.

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2 responses to “Oracle & MySQL

  1. Dear Mr.Dash,

    Read your views with interest (having worked with Oracle in India and having heard you number of times in person).

    I personally feel the hardware also plays a role in the decision to buy out Sun.

    We see acquisitions all around the industry and past collaborators becoming competitors example EMC and Dell in storage and Cisco entering into Server market. Gravitation of the industry seems to be heading towards the one stop shop for all systems and software.

    The debate on MySQL is the same as the debate on Workgroup Server against the Enterprise Server in mid 90’s. Debate around that time was if a Rep. would sell the US$150 per user DB instead of pushing for US$800. If you recall Oracle did loose deals on pricing to MS SQL those days for the differential. Better sense prevailed because 1. 150 is better than 0 and 2. Better not to loose the account.

    I guess a similar rationale will work this time too as to better to win and get an account then to loose. I am sure Oracle will come out with a service offering to make money in the long run if the customer chooses to stay with MySQL or show him a upgrade path to Oracle DB Once the customer scales.

    It might be a good idea though to do away with the Oracle Server SE and let MySQL take its place.

  2. Thanks Sonik for your comments.
    It’s like “Back to the Future”, when there were only 2-3 large competitors providing “one-stop shopping”. IBM did provide the entire vertical stack (chips, hardware, OS, subsystems, applications). Then we saw the horizontal structure (many players in each layer), now we are back to vertical stack – from hardware to software infrastructure plus applications. Given open systems and many choices, a full back-to-the-future will not occur. So let us see how this cyclic pattern ends up.

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