Sun Microsystems announced this week that it will acquire MySQL in a £509 million ($1 billion) deal. Ending speculation that MySQL would be a candidate for an IPO this year, the MySQL team has instead accepted $800 million in cash and $200 million in options. MySQL CEO Marten Mikos will join Sun's executive team and the company he heads will be folded into Sun's operations when the transaction concludes later this year. This is a fairly big deal-not because of the dollars involved, but because of the pairing of the two companies.
As the two companies merge operations, there will be some morphing and changes as the dust settles; at the moment, no one seems able to cite a clear downside to this development. Expect to see new or modified offerings or bundles, but none of this is likely to be earth shattering.
MySQL is one of the leading database management systems, earning a spot in the common platform stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (or Perl, to some) also known as LAMP. As Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz put it in his blog, "We're putting a billion dollars behind the M in LAMP." LAMP is the platform of choice for the vast majority of Web 2.0 companies, so the impact will be broadly felt.
In addition, Sun's strength in the enterprise arena and an expressed commitment to optimise the LAMP stack to run on a variety of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows and its own OpenSolaris OS, mean inroads for MySQL into the multi billion pound database market. CIOs who have shied away from MySQL in the past may be inclined to take a second look. For those keeping score, a company like Sun standing behind MySQL allays many of the concerns some IT Managers may have had with deploying MySQL.
For its part, Sun was lacking a database management system in its hardware offering, operating systems, software and services. The omission was likely to have become a greater hindrance as time went on, but through a mutual understanding and support of open-source ideals, Sun has found perhaps the perfect partner in MySQL. Rounding out its stable with a solid database management system enables Sun to take further strides toward the creation of a web application platform that includes Java and NetBeans. This puts Sun in a good position for the coming software-as-a-service(SaaS) trend, which will rely heavily on database technology. Rich Green, executive vice president of software for Sun, in fact, referred to MySQL as the basis of the new network economy. Sun is clearly solidifying a position to be able to power and profit from the internet economy.
For the typical CIO who is using Sun or MySQL, this bodes well. Green and Mikos, agree that this deal brings a wide variety of new customers into focus for both companies. Sun's enterprise expertise will further optimise MySQL. Simultaneously, as MySQL is deployed into additional enterprise environments, Sun will bring to bear its expertise in standing behind users for support in high-availability or mission-critical environments.
Zak Greant, an electronic frontier strategist and free software and open-source advocate, is the founder of Foo Associates and has a background in MySQL. "From the outside," he said, "it looks good. Sun has had a strong, consistent approach for the past three years." He estimates that the biggest practical outworking for MySQL will be in the perception of stability, and he anticipates seeing tighter product integration as time goes on.
For Sun, it represents "more opportunity to be more important to more customers," he said, adding that many of these may now take a more serious look at Sun's hardware offerings.
Open-source advocates are likely to be at peace with the deal as well. Mikos referred to Sun as the "perfect home" for MySQL, noting that no other company has made as much commitment to open source as Sun, "and that's part of the beauty of the story," he said.
For the CIO who is not using Sunor MySQL, it may be time to review vendors when the question comes up again; the marriage of these two companies, in some cases, will mean a new single-source vendor is available. If this was a determining factor in past decisions, there's a competent new suitor in the field.
As for investors-Sun's stock price has been rising.
Brent Toderash has spent his career in business and IT as a manager, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is a freelance writer, thinker, and strategist working from Winnipeg, Canada.