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Sun Microsystems Databases Programming Software IT

Can Sun Make MySQL Pay? 273

AlexGr submitted a nice followup to last weeks billion dollar Sun buyout of MySQL. He notes that "Jeff Gould presents an interesting analysis in Interop News: How can an open source software company with $70 million or so in revenue and no profits to speak of be worth $1 billion? That's the question Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has been trying to answer since he bought MySQL last week. Like most commercial open source companies, MySQL makes money by enticing well-heeled customers to pay for an enterprise version of its product that comes with more bells and whistles than the community version it gives away for free. It appears though that the additional features of the Enterprise version are not enough to compensate for the revenue-destroying effects of the free Community alternative. What else could explain the surprising fact that MySQL has quietly filled out its open source portfolio with a closed source proprietary management software tool known as Enterprise Software Monitor?"
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Can Sun Make MySQL Pay?

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  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @10:34AM (#22152838) Homepage Journal

    This is where you have to think outside of the box. There are some who believe that Sun may simply be the pawn of Oracle. Oracle could not buy MySQL directly because of anti-trust issues etc.. Not to mention, Sun and Oracle have been "strategic partners" for a very long time.
    Don't believe everything you read on the Web. There's bad blood between Sun and Oracle right now over Oracle doing their own Red Hat-based Linux. Oracle's long-term strategy is to try to get most of its customers on Oracle Linux. They don't want to be beholden to any platform companies, especially not Sun.
  • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @10:52AM (#22153104) Homepage Journal

    What that means is is you want to use it in propietry apps you have to buy a license.
    Or release your own code to the GPL.... Which is completely fair.
  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:01AM (#22153220)
    Not only that - if MySQL offered "truly" enterprise grade support, we'd probably buy it.

    As it stands now, we can buy the top tier of support, and not really get what we're looking for out of it.

    We want them to send in experienced engineers, and work with us to build a clusterable solution that suits our needs - which in our case is not the type of solution that most people envision with clustering mysql. Paying $3500 a year per machine is not what we have in mind. We're willing to spend a large amount of money, but we want support for our COMPANY, not a per-machine cost.

    I see MySQL as a company that does not yet service the enterprise. They service the small and medium business. Its quite possible that with Sun behind them, they'll figure out how to actually service a company like mine.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:05AM (#22153264) Homepage Journal

    some JSP container (tomcat? or does Sun make their own?)

    Meet Glassfish:

    https://glassfish.dev.java.net/ [java.net]

    Sun produces a commercial version under the confusing title of "Sun Java System Application Server". (Sun seriously needs to fire their marketing department. :-/) It's worlds away better than Tomcat; which is really a straightforward development server. SJSAS/Glassfish will serve you better in a production environment than Tomcat will. It's also integrated with Netbeans (in a way that actually works!) making it a suprisingly good, if not a bit hefty, development environment.
  • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:08AM (#22153292) Journal
    This is a common misconception that a lot of people seem to have. When they equate support with phoning up a tech guy to get help with their laptop not booting etc.

    Companies get support contracts for various purposes. In some cases you might need to talk to a development team about adding a feature. Good luck if you're not paying for that kind of level of support. You might also need to have the product deployed across 500 servers and you need to brainstorm with the company's technicians about the best way to do that effectively. Oh and if something does break, if a bug is found etc. it is always nice for your own IT department to be able to get a support rep, developer or technician on the phone at 2:30am on a Sunday morning when your critical sites are down and costing you money by the second etc.
  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:18AM (#22153404) Journal
    A DBA is not necessarily a database programmer and vice versa. I am a database programmer. I am *NOT* a DBA. I can write SQL statements, procedures, triggers, etc. better than most people who touch a database and yet, don't ask me to configure an Oracle database or set up replication in SQL Server (SQL Server being the pointy-clicky-draggy-droppy approach to administration, I could probably do it, but it isn't what I do and isn't what I profess to be able to do). An MCDBA is certified to do the pointy-clicky-draggy-droppy stuff, not to write database applications.

    Granted, I think a DBA needs some understanding of what is done in the database (code wise), I don't expect him to be an expert in it.....that's my job.


    *Disclaimer, I work in a large company where they can afford to have this division of labor. In a small company, people have to wear many hats and usually the person who wears the database programmer hat also has to wear the DBA hat (and probably the network engineer hat and a couple of others).
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:26AM (#22153496) Journal
    Quoting Schwartz's blog [sun.com]:

    Where are the revenue synergies?

    The more interesting question is "where aren't the synergies?" Wherever MySQL is deployed, whether the user is paying for software support or not, a server will be purchased, along with a storage device, networking infrastructure - and over time, support services on high value open platforms. Last I checked, we have products in almost all those categories.

    In addition, the single biggest impediment to MySQL's growth wasn't the feature set of their technology - which is perfectly married to planetary scale in the on-line/web world. The biggest impediment was that some traditional enterprises wanted a Fortune 500 vendor ("someone in a Gartner magic quadrant") to provide enterprise support. Good news, we can augment MySQL's great service team with an extraordinary set of service professionals across the planet - and provide global mission critical support to the biggest businesses on earth.

    So yeah, he's got an idea for the answer, but the author of the TFA knew he didn't have a story if he had read the entire blog entry :-P

    I think the idea that people will go "hey, that sun mysql worked out pretty well for us. let's go over to sun.com and see what else they have." isn't a bad one. I think the real kicker will be support. Have some random problem in mysql that's killing you? Pay for an incident with Sun support, and the customer could be well satisfied with what they get back. They like the idea of having a vendor that will actually fix things for you, and suddenly you look at other stuff sun sells that you could get support for.

    To put it in perspective, I've got a sun desktop machine (nothing fancy, an amd box that was a lot cheaper than my macbook pro) and it was getting a harmless error message. I put in a support call to sun. Until the issue's fixed (they want me to upgrade the firmware), they've been stalking me to track the ticket. E-mails and voicemail messages ("Did you get a chance to upgrade that firmware yet?") more often than you'd get from a real-life stalker. These kids don't screw around with support. I'm kind of afraid of them for that.

    But I'm sure that if you have a problem that's important, you'll appreciate the dedication.

    I'm sure there's a lot to be said about companies trusting mysql more now that a big company like sun's behind them, but I'm still in academia, so I donno how much of a factor that is. Probably lots.

  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:32AM (#22153594) Homepage Journal
    I think everyone might be missing the point. How many people purchase low-end LAMP servers? Whether they be from hosting providers, or setup at home, LAMP is a well-known name in the industry.

    Sun has OpenSolaris. Which so far has not quite caught on well enough to challenge LAMP dominance in the low-end of the market. Now imagine if Sun started shipping fully supported SAMP (Solaris Apache MySQL PHP) software distributions branded with "High Performance*, 64-bit Sun MySQL". If they can gain enough brand recognition this way, this free software could be their ticket into gaining more market share.

    More market share on the low-end means more mind share with the same developers and IT folks who keep forgetting that Sun exists. If Sun can become de facto, they can probably own the low-end, mid-range, and high-end of the market rather than constantly retreating to the ever-shrinking Big Iron market. (Maybe people will even notice that Sun makes extremely affordable Intel machines?)

    * Expect Sun to announce the "fastest database ever" by tuning MySQL for their Niagara processors, turning off all transactional safety, and then running benchmarks against the system. With any luck, these semi-valid benchmarks would earn Sun some goodwill for having "improved" MySQL. The double-edged sword here is that Sun would get a reputation for performance with those who don't understand that Niagara is a key component AND Sun would sell more Niagara servers to those who DO understand that Niagara is a key component.
  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:34AM (#22153630) Journal

    Apple's P/E is way out of whack (30's when most everyone else is teens to 20's). If the NASDAQ / DOW / S&P falls, those with higher P/E's fall faster.

    http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AWMT [google.com]
    http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:AAPL [google.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:44AM (#22153738)
    Sun and Oracle are kind of strange strategic partners since Oracle is now completely pushing Linux (particularly their "Unbreakable" Linux) as the Os of choice for their database, to the point of releasing Oracle 11 for Linux several months before releasing it for any other platform, and for only providing some of their major value add tools (OCFS2, for example) for Linux. Oracle databases used to be the balliwick of Sun's SPARC and Solaris.
  • by Phantom of the Opera ( 1867 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:48AM (#22153794) Homepage
    I can't see it or say any other way than "My Squirrel"
  • Re:Java (Score:2, Informative)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:21PM (#22154270) Journal
    Oracle isn't written in java, yet they allow java stored procedures. SQL Server isn't written in VB.NET, yet they allow VB.NET stored procedures. Postgresql isn't written in perl, yet they allow perl stored procedures.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:28PM (#22154328)

    Why not just start with the SQL Server free version.....it scales all the way to SQL Server Enterprise with no code changes
    Woo-hoo. It scales all the way up to machines with 4 or maybe even 8 CPUs.

    Yeah, I know MS specs have something like a max of 1024 CPUs. But that's just a #define in their source code. And yeah, I know MS SQL Server began life as a Sybase port - and Sybase does scale.

    But the OS you're stuck with when running SQL Server simply does not scale. It's not stable. It's becoming more and more DRM-encumbered, further reducing scalability and stability. It's utterly fucking opaque, so when things go wrong there's no way to figure out why.

    If you use any other database, you can swap out your underlying OS.

    The only reason to us MS SQL Server is because you want a 60% solution and can get "certified" DB monkeys cheap.
  • Re:Mindshare (Score:3, Informative)

    by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:39PM (#22154482) Homepage Journal

    it will reflect well on a company that, till now, has been floundering

    I'm sorry, how do you define floundering [link to Sunoco stock chart]??

    You quoted stock symbol "SUN" rather than "SUNW" which is the former symbol for Sun Microsystems. FYI, they currently trade under the symbol "JAVA".

    As a stock, they have changed their name and done a reverse split recently. They are currently trading at about where they have been for the last year.

    Though, their action on Wall Street is much like Apple BEFORE the iPod. I am not suggesting that Sun has the capability of releasing a iPod caliber killer product... but they have a strong technology portfolio and I wouldn't bet AGAINST them at this point in time.

  • by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @01:42PM (#22155366) Homepage Journal
    Tomcat is just a Servlet/JSP container, where Glassfish is a J2EE server like Weblogic or Websphere. The apache equivalent is Geronimo, which I believe uses Tomcat for the Servlet/JSP portion of the J2EE spec.
  • by narrowhouse ( 1949 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @02:08PM (#22155726) Homepage
    Because the OSS database server can support a database larger than 4GB and still be free? The "free" version of MS SQL is pretty limited in terms of software on which you might run a company. If you are going to pay the kind of money that MS SQL server standard + any support from Microsoft costs you suddenly have several more options both Open and Proprietary.The fact that it only runs in Windows is irrelevant, it doesn't fill the same niche as MySQL or PostgreSQL, where you can use labour to compensate for the lack of some niceties.
  • by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @10:32PM (#22162488)
    Excellent comments about MySQL. You've summarized my thoughts exactly. However, you've really dropped the ball by not moving to PostgreSQL. It's really a shame that such a gem gets left in the dust because people simply don't know any better. It's either MySQL on low end or some proprietary DB on high-end. But the truth is that PostgreSQL can do anything that MSSQL can, and it actually does a few things better. For example:

    * If you start a transaction in PostgreSQL and one of the SQL statements causes an error, the transaction is aborted immediately, and all resources are immediately released. The server still expects the client to send "ROLLBACK", but that is merely an acknowledgment. Not so with MSSQL. It allows you to continue writing to the database, AND issue a COMMIT statement at the end, thus committing a partially-failed transaction! This is from the WTF??? department.

    * For whatever reason, the default collation is not case-sensitive. This caused some interesting bugs when we least expected.

    * Client libraries are just pathetic, especially on non-windows platforms. JDBC driver is usable, but C client library is essentially reverse-engineered and not supported by microsoft (http://www.freetds.org/). It is a small miracle we can access MSSQL at all from Linux.

    Anyway, I've used PostgreSQL in my past few projects and currently using MSSQL (not my choice). It is a decent database (other than the annoyances I mentioned), but I still prefer PostgreSQL. Feature-wise, I can't think of anything that MSSQL has and PostgreSQL doesn't. It's really a shame it doesn't get used more.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham