Sun: MySQL buy 'most important in software history'

The company says its acquisition of open-source database provider MySQL will enable it to dominate in open-source server software
Written by Cath Everett, Contributor

Sun has claimed that completing its purchase of the open-source database developer MySQL will enable it to become the most complete provider of open-source server software.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's chief executive, said in a conference call on Tuesday that the £1bn acquisition "completed our capability to deliver a holistic, secure, open-source platform for networks", providing the last, key piece in a software stack that now rivals Microsoft's.

The move, which Schwartz described as "the most important acquisition in Sun's history and in the history of the modern software industry" is significant because: "What we see customers doing is migrating to complete platforms. The market clearly elected a proprietary platform for desktops and we see that happening increasingly with open-source solutions on the server side."

The Sun announcement was made on the eve of Microsoft's biggest server-product launch in years. Wednesday will see the company launch a new version of its flagship server operating system, Windows Server 2008, as well as pushing its database product, SQL Server 2008, due to be released later this year. Microsoft is also updating its developer-tools platform with the launch of Visual Studio 2008.

Schwartz said he believes Sun is well-positioned to dominate in open-source server software as it now has "the most complete open-source solution to build efficient and secure online and web-based applications" on the planet, while its ability to deliver "mission-critical, carrier-grade applications" with the help of partners and ISVs "will transform the market".

The online-applications sector is currently worth £15bn globally, Schwartz added, and MySQL commands 50 percent of the unspecified open-source chunk. However, according to Rich Green, the head of Sun's software division, who was also on the call: "Millions or tens of millions of users", including Facebook, Nokia Siemens and YouTube, already employ the open-source database, which is "an essential part of the software portfolio for developers of Web 2.0 applications".

But the purchase, together with last year's acquisition of Cluster File Systems's Lustre distributed file system, also means that Sun "is putting together the world's most compelling open-source storage platform", Schwartz claimed.

In order to boost its acquisition's market share, the company's entire product range will be made available through Sun's third-party channel "who [sic] now have a reason to call on the majority of the world running MySQL, whether they're paying for the software or not. It's a wonderful calling card for those that are running it without commercial support and an even better one for those that are interested in commercial support".

For the first time, the vendor will also provide 24/7, global, multi-platform support for the MySQL product line for a flat fee under its new MySQL Enterprise Unlimited initiative, in order to "remove the single biggest impediment" to corporate adoption.

But Sun does not plan to end its open-source shopping spree here. While MySQL "is clearly the crown jewels of the open-source market and there are no higher-value assets to be acquired", Schwartz does expect to make "more tuck-in acquisitions", such as the innotek virtualisation product purchase that also took place this month.

MySQL will sit in the supplier's newly formed database group in its software division and former chief executive, Martin Mickos, will become a Sun senior vice president and member of Schwartz's executive management group.

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