Earlier this year, Sun scooped up MySQL
for a cool $1 billion. However, while Sun has been somewhat friendly towards open source software, there were plenty of concerns about what the company planned to do with MySQL. Some of those fears are now being realized. After first disappearing
some of MySQL's public statements on the evilness of software patents, Sun caused quite a bit of controversy with a plan to close source
certain new features in an attempt to push people to upgrade to a premium, paid version of the software. While that's certainly one strategy, it could be a dangerous one, ticking off many MySQL users who will go searching for alternatives.
So, what could Sun do with MySQL to help build a bigger and better business that doesn't involve locking up any software? The blog Milking The Gnu
has a very interesting suggestion that makes a lot of sense (and certainly fits in directly with the economics
we discuss around here). The idea is not to worry about locking up the software, but to turn MySQL into a cloud computing web-platform
. The reasoning makes a tremendous amount of sense (much more than Sun's current strategy). Basically, on the low end, you have folks who will never pay for a premium version of MySQL anyway. At the high end, most of those companies (if pushed) will probably lean towards Oracle or IBM. But in the middle-tier there's a real opportunity -- not to be a database software company, but to build that all important web platform
we've been discussing.
Already, Amazon and Google are trying to build that platform, with Amazon seeing a fair bit of success (and Google just starting). Sun has promoted the concept of cloud computing for years, so why not flip things around and make MySQL the database part of a cloud computing offering. With so many folks already comfortable with MySQL, it will be much easier for many of them to embrace this offering, rather than having to figure out the details of Amazon's SimpleDB or Google's AppEngine/BigTable setup. Then, the more people you get to adopt the free open source version of MySQL, the more likely they are to make use of Sun's cloud computing offering over the alternatives. And, then, Sun can charge for the use of cloud computing resources (scarce resources) while knowing that the infinite nature of MySQL promotes that scarce good. Given that Sun's been such a promoter
of cloud computing for so long, you would think this was a no-brainer. But it's latest actions with MySQL suggest it may be going in a different direction, and that's unfortunate. Update
: Marten Mickos of MySQL/Sun responds
in the comments, and Glyn Moody points us to an interview
he recently conducted with Mickos suggesting that Mickos is thinking along similar lines about cloud computing.