SUN wants to deal with MySQL like a small open source companies would: offering a few proprietary components on top of a free platform. This is so wrong: not only does it anger the community but it doesn't bring SUN anywhere near a solution that would leverage the long tail of MySQL adopters. How could you invest $1B in a company and subsequently foster such petty thoughts? Time to think differently.
MySQL is a special case in the open source world. There are really 3 kinds of markets defined by those
200M+ downloads (correction: 6M-12M active installs depending on sources):
- Zillions of small shops and start-ups
- Medium-sized companies growing out from the above ones
- Large companies whose technology guys are stealth-using MySQL in every corner
Good, My SQL is all over the place but:
- The long tail doesn’t have much money and those companies already have a few LAMP guys on board
- The middle tier is going to be harvested efficiently by Microsoft and Oracle all-powerful sales force with which SUN cannot really compete
- The F1,000s don’t even know they are using SQL and if they do they are more likely to be convinced to use ORCL IBM or MSFT light products depending on the shop who owns them
Bummer. Time to ask the real question: what does the market need?
- Small guys have specialty needs and process issues: scalability, security, back-up and limited cash: incremental investments only.
- The low-end middle tier needs reasons and incentive to stick to MySQL instead of switching to MSFT/ORCL. They need help turning into "real", 1,000+ people companies.
- The high-end middle tier needs help building their own IT infrastructure
- The F1,000s need Enterprise integrated MySQL support with their Linux deployments.
Now, what is the right model for MySQL? As pointed out by Matt in a really great article, some lessons have to be pondered about. Here is a suggestion to SUN:
1. Drop the non-scalable part of the business and pass it on to Redhat
Carve an agreement with RedHat: allow them to use the trademark, pass on those download listings to RedHat salesforce, have Red Hat help distribute the service below.
2. Focus on the long tail
- Offer what nobody else can offer: a convenient, on-demand MySQL service coupling virtualization, load-balancing, security and automatic back-up. Think Google apps or Amazon Rainbow (sounds nicer than SUN's cloud) but from a much larger install base, with a standard/universal
interface (SQL) and therefore with NO fear of lock-in. People can
prototype on MySQL and the day after they can launch; Who would say no to speed-to-market?
- Collect money on growing companies: (i.e. consuming too much bandwidth/Disk space/CPU) but keep it a much more interesting valued prop than that of Oracle or Microsoft (shouldn’t be that hard). That way, growing companies won’t be tempted to switch to much more expensive technology from the big guys: outsmarts Oracle and Microsoft on every single deal.
- Offer a transparent transition to enterprise data centers: Some companies want everything in-house: offer them an easy way to transparently transition that you will support with RedHat. Up sell your CISC servers at the same time. Use SUN virtualization technology to make the process completely seamless.
- Keep the community alive, separated and growing: give back everything developed in house and doing so further the strength of MySQL. With this model you can be bold, your force lies in your infrastructure. That way, many more developers will be inclined to contribute than with this narrow dual model, more suited for smaller companies and that often piss off entire communities.
As a side effect, you will have an opportunity to put to work all of those soon-to-be obsolete RISC architecture-based processors into a useful ...cloud. Remember when I told you that MySQL needed a new storage engine? Well, here is an opportunity to give it a cloud-based storage engine.
- A F1,000 presence through RedHat
- A happy and thriving community
- A dual cloud/grid ultra-storage infrastructure à la Amazon/Google (and also a good way to keep them in check)
- An opportunity to leverage obsolete RISC-based processors
- A new MySQL strorage engine pluging directly into SUN cloud/infrastructure
- A clear way to outsmart MSFT and ORCL on their midle-range market
- An opportunity to sell (CISC) servers and to generate scalable, recurring service revenues
- Cost? Maybe 10-15% of MySQL acquisition
- Time to Market? SUN has the ability to start a closed trial in just a few months.
- Wall street? Happy as a ClamAV without TrendMicro. It's going to be useful when those bad numbers are going to be released during Q4
Developers -and yes, open source developers too- have a great respect for SUN. Guide them instead of disappointing them. Go one step further: enroll the community to develop your cloud/grid: build a data center and give it to the community. Let's make it an ever lasting Summer of (distributed) code!
Why would SUN largest investment in the future be dealt with yet another model, another idea of the past?
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