I was surprised that Sun could go from idea to acquisition on MySQL in just five weeks. What turns out to be more surprising, however, is that Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO, had been talking with Marten Mickos of MySQL for over five years on precisely that topic, as Jonathan reveals on his blog. The real question, then, is why did it take so long?
Jonathan doesn't say, but the answer is clear: Marten wanted to build an IPO-able, independent MySQL. He eventually sold because it made sense (and, I suspect, because the prospect of living in the glare of Wall Street's impatient eye was not looking as appealing as it once had, but that's just Matt Asay personal conjecture).
Jonathan's post is a fascinating read. Here's just one of the sections I found revealing, coming on the heels of his suggestion that there are no "cost synergies" in the deal (Sun isn't going to save money by marrying salesforces, for example):
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.
This deal makes sense. It makes sense for MySQL and it makes sense for Sun. It doesn't necessarily make sense because it's going to push a gazillion more Sun servers, despite some complaints that Sun keeps "forgetting that it's a hardware company." It makes sense because it enables Sun to renew its standing as the "dot" in "dot-com," and helps to take MySQL beyond its dot-com beachhead into the Global 2000.
Because of this, it's very, very good for open source. I've noted before that well over half of Alfresco's customers both evaluate and deploy on MySQL, including for mission-critical applications. (We manage a slew of major websites that account for billions of dollars a year in business, among other things.) I'd be ecstatic to see the other half of our customers transitioning from proprietary databases to open-source and open standards databases.
Sun will help accelerate MySQL's relevance for Global 2000 customers and, hence, for my customers. I'm a fan of this deal because it's good for me, it's good for SugarCRM, it's good for MuleSource, etc. etc. etc. It's good for the commercial open source ecosystem.