Gratis 2008 MySQL Conference & Expo Conference Pass

I recently mentioned that LQ will be sponsoring a number of upcoming Linux and Open Source related conferences. I’m extremely happy to report that we are now able to give away a completely free conference pass to some of them. The first one is the 2008 MySQL Conference & Expo, which is a $1,199.00 value. To be eligible, simply post in this thread explaining how you work with MySQL or how you’re involved in the MySQL community along with why you’d like to attend the event. We’ll randomly select a winner from the eligible entries. We only have a single pass to give away, so please make sure you are able to attend the event before entering. Thanks, and good luck.

Note: We also have some gratis LugRadio Live USA 2008 tickets available. See my previous post if you’re interested.

–jeremy

What Makes a Freedom Fighter Join a Giant? or Ten Reasons to Get Acquired

An interesting inside look on what went into the MySQL end of the acquisition decision from Mårten Mickos has recently been posted.

At MySQL there were few things we loved as much as the thought of being our own masters. We had always been contrarians and we prided ourselves with not following what we saw as outdated ideas from big companies. We made the dolphin on our logo jump surprisingly from right to left (as opposed to the typical left to right) – because we wanted it to be clear: we were not afraid to be different. We decided that people can work from home so we can hire the best and brightest anywhere in the world – not just Stockholm, Seattle or Silicon Valley. We cherished heated debates in the company – and there were many. When other companies dictated alignment, we celebrated dissonance and accepted that there could be multiple viewpoints. When others gathered their staff at a prestigious hotel somewhere in the USA, we summoned our engineers to a primitive sanatorium outside St. Petersburg, Russia. We did it our way. At times it was difficult –even chaotic, but we loved it even more for that reason. It created a passion and strength inside the company.

So why did we change our minds in a few short weeks? What made us think that Sun Microsystems would be a good home for us? What made this better than an IPO? Why did we abandon our revolution for a stable nation? What was it in Sun Microsystems that attracted us? And, most importantly, will we be able to maintain the passion that has driven us to where we are today?

Let me start in a typical Scandinavian contrarian way: Perhaps we will be unable to maintain our passion within Sun. And at the most extreme, perhaps we should not have done this deal. The reality is it will take many years before we can judge this decision to know if it was the right course.

But let me also state that there is probably no better place for this “dirty dozen” (or perhaps “fanatical four hundred”) of MySQL than inside Sun Microsystems.

I’ve always really liked and had a huge amount of respect for both Mårten and the MySQL founders. They built a great company and a great product, and have been open and transparent the entire time. How this acquisition pans out has huge implications for Open Source IMHO. MySQL AB was on target to become one of the largest pure play Open Source companies in the world. With more and more Open Source companies being scooped up by traditional players and consolidators, it remains unclear to me how many pure play Open Source companies we’ll see in 5+ years. I think the ramifications of that are still not well understood (or given enough attention for that matter). Only time will tell.

–jeremy

Sun acquires MySQL II

A quick follow up to a previous post. The buzz created by the Sun acquisition announcement is still going strong. I’m still digesting the news and doing additional reading, but here are some interesting items I’ve run across.

Other Open Source database participants have been quite positive about the news. Josh Berkus, a member of the PostgreSQL Core Team and a Sun employee, was quick to welcome Brian Aker and the MySQL team aboard. You can see comments from Andy Astor, of EnterpriseDB here. This is friendlier stuff then you typically see in the proprietary world. I think that’s a function of both Open Source being different and us still being quite early on the adoption curve (where a rising tide is seen as lifting all boats).

From Matt: Guess how long the entire process, beginning to end, took? Five weeks. From the first phone call to today’s announcement, the deal took five weeks. That time frame is absolutely astounding. With a company the size of Sun, getting a simple partnership deal done usually takes more than five weeks. To have an acquisition of this size pulled off (Sun spent about 36% of its cash on the deal) is a testament to how bad they wanted a deal done.

Here’s a quick comparison to the BEA deal by Savio:
First off, kudos to Sun for valuing MySQL at this price. The deal represents ~36% of Sun’s Cash & Cash Equivalents (of $2.7B) on hand at the end of their last quarter (Sept. 2007). But considering how cheap debt is these days, Sun could probably fund a portion of the deal through cheap debt.

A reader commented on BEA and MySQL being founded in the same year, but BEA being sold for 8x more than MySQL. True, but BEA has ~$1.5B in revenue versus ~$60M for MySQL. When you take revenue into account, MySQL secured 3x more in acquisition price for every dollar of revenue than did BEA. OSS vendors must be sleeping with dollar signs in their eyes tonight….

Here’s a Q&A with Stephen O’Grady:
Q: So does that make this “We’re the Dot in the Dot Com,” the sequel? With the commensurate crash to follow?
A: Some would contend that’s the case, yes. Particularly a couple of members of the media we’ve spoken with. And of course it is possible that the model propping up Google’s immense valuation and those similar to it will prove to be similarly illusory. But somehow I doubt it. The fact is that the Google’s of the world have made real what Sun itself could not: a network that is, in fact, the computer. And the Google’s of the world, far more often than not, run on MySQL. Via this single acquisition, Sun’s made itself a relevant vendor in a space that very few, if any, of the larger commercial systems suppliers can play in.

Whether you agree with the valuation or not, YouTube sold for $1.6 billion, and consumed virtually no software from any of the major vendors. If that acquisition was to take place today, they would have been buying from Sun.

Not everyone is seeing this as a positive. Jay worries about the large company syndrome and Ben wishes Sun would focus on their core. Sun’s poor history with acquisitions seems to come up a lot, but none of those were under Schwartz.

Some additional comments:

* The MySQL founders are happy with the deal. That’s a good thing.
* Who this impacts and who else could have pulled off an acquisition seem to be popular questions. I’d say the latter is a fairly small list: Oracle, Red Hat, IBM and maybe Google or Yahoo. Who it impacts remains to be seen, but I think the implications will be pretty far reaching.
* The possibly Google/Yahoo above brings me to an angle that I haven’t seen much commentary on. I’d expect Sun to offer some kind of “MySQL in the cloud” service that could be one component in a service offering that competes with Amazon an its S3/EC2/SimpleDB offerings.
* It’s clear that Sun has made a significant investment in the M from LAMP here. I continue to question how they feel about the L in LAMP though. This seems to be one of the biggest sticking points people have. Will MySQL focus less on Linux (which leads both MySQL sales and downloads by far, from what I understand) and more on Solaris? Will Sun push Solaris while selling MySQL? More questions than answers on this one, so we’ll have to wait and see.
* I’d expect a couple long time MySQL employees to cash out after this and quickly found some very interesting startups based on what they did at MySQL AB.

That’s all for now.

–jeremy

Red Hat: BofA Downgrades; Cites Troubles With JBoss

(via Matt) Following news that Novell may be building momentum comes news that Bank of America has downgraded RHT. As is often the case with stock analysts, more are piling on the downgrade now. From Barrons:

Red Hat (RHT) shares are lower today after Bank of America analyst Kirk Materne cut his rating on the stock to Neutral from Buy. His price target goes to $21 from $23.

Materne says the company’s fiscal third quarter ended November should be “solid,” but that its JBoss application server software “continues to have trouble gaining momentum.” He adds that there are “few catalysts on the horizon” that could add to current billings and cash flow growth estimates for the fiscal year ending in February 2008, or for that matter, FY 2009.

Meanwhile, Trip Chowdhry, of Global Equities Research, also downgraded the stock today, moving to Equal Weight. Chowdhry contends that the company’s business fundamentals are “deteriorating,” and that the JBos acquisition “is a complete failure.”

Chowdrhy also asserts that Red Hat Linux “is gradually being relegated to a position of non-criticality.” He also says Red Hat is losing momentum in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – to Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL). And he says hardware vendors IBM and Hewlett-Packard are providing support and bug fixes for Red Hat Linux since “vendors feel Red Hat support is not enterprise class.”

Not least, he says that developer momentum is shifting away from the Open Source LAMP software stack – Linux, Apache, My SQL, PHP – and toward Microsoft’s .Net platform.

It’s true that Red Hat is having a little more difficulty than it anticipated integrating JBoss. When you acquire an Open Source company, much of what you are acquiring is the people. Many of the top JBoss people have left. The cultures were different, the sales models were different and I’d guess given the information Red Hat has now, they’d have done things a little bit differently. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I think the long term benefits for Red Hat and JBoss are still there.

Moving on to the Global Equities Research comments, I have no idea where Trip is getting his information. All other leading indicators I’ve seen indicate that Linux and Open Source are doing quite well in BRIC and other emerging markets (and in many of those markets Microsoft is either having difficulty gaining traction or is gaining traction by discounting heavily). Additionally, more and more companies are clearly choosing Linux for absolute mission critical applications. The NYSE is a recent example of this. Finally, LAMP adoption in general has been seeing very strong growth and MySQL AB still seems headed toward its IPO, despite the weakening US economy. It just goes to show that an “analyst” can say just about anything they want, typically with little to no justification or real repercussions.

–jeremy

Refining MySQL Community Server

MySQL AB has announced some changes in the way it handles the Community and Enterprise releases of MySQL. From the post:

The changes are in the areas of release policy and stability of MySQL Community Server and in the availability of MySQL Enterprise Server.

The changes start from the question: “How can we better target MySQL Community Server to the community and MySQL Enterprise Server to the paying customers?“. Many of them originate from our ongoing discussions with the Linux Distributions, some of whom have been distributing MySQL Enterprise Server to their user base, since MySQL Community Server hasn’t conformed to their needs of feature stability and release schedule.

Our intention is for MySQL Community Server to be very good, and for MySQL Enterprise Server to provide further value on top of that. The five changes, in short, are:

1. New features and community contributions will go into the next development tree. The new features will not be applied to a current GA release, ensuring stability for the Community Server. At the time of writing, the development tree is MySQL 5.2.
2. There will be at least two yearly “mature GA” (currently MySQL 5.0) binary builds. They aren’t scheduled, but usually triggered by grave security vulnerabilities.
3. When a version of MySQL initially goes GA (as 5.1 soon will), the company will release binary builds of the new GA product every month for a period of several months until it reaches a point of suitable stability/maturity to be considered a “mature GA” release — as described above.
4. There will be four yearly “mature GA” (currently MySQL 5.0) source releases, predictably scheduled, to be released once every quarter. These will be ideal for use by distributions shipping MySQL.
5. The current Enterprise source tarballs will be removed from ftp.mysql.com. These will move to enterprise.mysql.com, and will be available for our paying subscribers only.

This has sparked quite a few responses in the community, most of them negative. For one, it’s an extremely confusing setup that builds on what was already a confusing system. Second, it appears to go against what they are attempting to accomplish. Why would supposedly stable “Enterprise” builds be released more often and be tested by less people?

To me, that’s not the worst of it however. At least on the face of it, it seems like a bad business decision. Let me make one thing clear: I really like both MySQL the product and MySQL AB the company. They have done a ton for Open Source and I’d like nothing more than to see them make boat loads of money. The way I see it though, their adoption process is usually something along the lines of: technical person installs MySQL, something critical ends up getting implemented using it, managers insist on a support contract. Maybe what I’ve seen it not representative of the average MySQL sale, but if it is this move should prove quite bad for the bottom line. By making the Enterprise product harder to implement, it makes a support contract less likely in my mind. I thought they were trying to sell on value adds, such as support and monitoring. Is it possible that isn’t working and they are seeking other alternatives? If so, that’s worrisome. I trust that MySQL AB is watching the responses on this closely and really think in the end they’ll do the right thing, but I have to admit this is a little troubling. It’s a trend I’ve seen at a broader scale bubbling beneath the scenes and some interesting times could be ahead for “Enterprise Open Source”.

–jeremy

OSCON Executive Briefing II

(live blogging, so forgive the grammar and lack of proof reading)

Always Better

Matt Asay (Alfresco) and Mike Olson (Oracle via SleepyCat) discuss the value of source code. Mike argues that zero cost frictionless distribution is more disruptive than source access. A response from the crowd asked why he doesn’t close BerkleyDB. He didn’t get a chance to answer the question, but did give Matt a book.

The Path to IPO

Marten Mickos discusses how he hopes to grow MySQL AB to a billion in revenues. He covered how much the company has matured in the last few years (including items like: “we now invoice customers and have prices”). MySQL really aligns with PHP, but is “promiscuous when it comes to programming languages”. “Moore’s law will continues, but doesn’t apply to people” – MM. “The company you keep matters in Open Source” – TO. MySQL data seems to once again confirm that many people test OSS on Windows and deploy on Linux. Open Source will accelerate what is already happening to a product – bad ones will die quicker and good ones will get better faster.

Managing Linus Torvalds and other small challenges

Jim is covering the reasons that FSG and OSDL merged. He is also reflecting on what he sees as the future responsibility of the Linux Foundation, including what directions they should take and what pitfalls they should avoid.

Why Free Software values work for business

Mark discusses the relationship between the commercial Canonical and the non-commercial Ubuntu community. Mark sees collaboration as one of the key Open Source strengths. Launchpad is meant to take advantage of this and leverage collaboration as much as possible. Freedom of data is becoming increasingly important and Ubuntu/Canonical is committed to free data not only in launchpad (which will be Open Sourced soon), but throughout the project/company. “Driver support in Linux is probably one of the biggest reservations in Linux adoption” – MS. The following question was asked: “Can Ubuntu become bigger than Mark”. In essence, if Mark went away for whatever reason, would Ubuntu survive? This is clearly a question Mark has really thought about, up to and including Will provisions meant to ensure financial viability for the project.

–jeremy

MySQL AB and IBM Announce Open Source Database Support for the IBM System i Platform

Some pretty big news from IBM and MySQL AB at the recent MySQL Conference & Expo 2007 (which I unfortunately had to miss this year, but do plan on attending next year). From the press release:

MySQL AB and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a joint technology and reseller agreement to bring support for the MySQL open source database to the IBM System i business computing platform.

The two companies will work together to offer the MySQL Server for i5/OS, the flagship operating system for System i, and plan to deliver DB2 for i5/OS as a certified MySQL storage engine on the System i platform. This will allow System i customers to implement online and transactional MySQL applications while storing all data in a single, easy-to-manage DB2 database.

In addition, MySQL Enterprise subscriptions — a comprehensive offering of MySQL database software, services and support — will be made available to IBM clients worldwide through IBM’s reseller network and System i sales team. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

For such a large company, IBM has been able to leverage Open Source extremely well. This release is great news for MySQL AB and their upcoming IPO. The reach of the IBM reseller network is absolutely massive and will surely get MySQL into places it’s not currently. The fact that is being implemented as a MySQL storage engine is a testament to how powerful that modular paradigm is. Congrats to both IBM and MySQL AB.

–jeremy