Monday, May 05, 2008

Platformonomics - Forecast: Cloudy, Definitely Not Sunny [On Sun/MySQL and other DBMS market dynamics]

Another timely reality check from Charles Fitzgerald; see the full post for more details and analysis

I can't seem to resist commenting on industry anachronisms, but Sun's latest quarterly disappointment raises a question that I have not seen the commentariat comment upon.  How has the MySQL acquisition by Sun impacted the relationship with Sun's biggest historical partner, Oracle?  I may be misjudging Oracle's leadership, history and culture, but my guess is they view databases as their birthright and treat any real or proposed encroachment, even from a company with as poor an acquisitions record as Sun, as a serious matter.  The telescope in Larry's office has been pointed north for a long time (first across San Francisco Bay, then up the coast to Washington state and more recently along the great polar route to Walldorf), but I'll bet it rotates south to Santa Clara.  MySQL was already on Oracle's radar screen because it represents the logical end of the traditional database business, an outcome Oracle will do just about anything to forestall, including get into applications and middleware in a big way to entrench and diversify.

Adding my $.02:

  • For the immediate future, I believe MySQL and Oracle Database are resonating with different market segments, so I don't think the acquisition is a clear and present danger to Oracle Database business on Solaris (although I suspect the acquisition did indeed chill the Sun/Oracle relationship in many respects).
  • Perhaps paradoxically, Oracle is probably the most successful commercial open source data management company at this point, at least in terms of revenue, due to its Sleepycat and InnoBase acquisitions, but again it's not 1:1 with the bigger-picture MySQL customer profile (Sleepycat is more for embedded database scenarios, and InnoDB, weirdly, is primarily for MySQL customers who need a transacted storage subsystem...).
  • Oracle probably shouldn't be Sun/MySQL's major concern at the moment; other open source DBMSs such as EnterpriseDB, imho, are much more of a near-term challenge for MySQL -- and Oracle, in some respects, since EnterpriseDB adds (Oracle) PL/SQL compatibility to PostgreSQL.
  • For now, the onus is on Sun to prove there's a strategically sensible/synergistic/etc. scenario behind its MySQL AB acquisition.

For more in this context, incidentally, consider attending Burton Group's Catalyst conference (San Diego, in June); among other topics, we're going to deep-dive on database management market dynamics at Catalyst, and we're also going to have a lively debate with execs from EnterpriseDB, Microsoft, and other vendors.

Platformonomics - Forecast: Cloudy, Definitely Not Sunny

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