Sun to spend $1B to acquire MySQL, will compete with Oracle, Microsoft

One of the principal products in the LAMP open source arsenal will become a Sun Microsystems product, possibly by the end of this quarter.

When discussing enterprise database installations worldwide, as of today, it will be impossible not to consider Sun Microsystems along with Microsoft and Oracle. This morning, Sun announced it has reached an agreement with MySQL -- which by some accounts may have become the producer of the most widely installed database, under everyone's noses -- in a deal expected to be closed as soon as this March.

"Until now, no platform vendor has assembled all the core elements of a completely open source operating system for the Internet," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote for this blog this morning. "No company has been able to deliver a comprehensive alternative to the leading proprietary OS. With this acquisition, we will have done just that: positioned Sun at the center of the Web, as the definitive provider of high performance platforms for the Web economy."

Where does MySQL go from here?

The deal is tentatively valued at $800 million in cash, plus options currently valued at $200 million. MySQL will become integrated into Sun's existing software line, according to this morning's statement, which would appear to imply that the database producer will not become a division of Sun. And this morning's statement referring solely to MySQL CEO Marten Mickos as joining Sun's executive team, in a yet-to-be-named capacity, would appear to suggest the possibility of attrition at MySQL.

Both of these suggestions may be news to some at MySQL, however, including its legendary executive vice president, Zack Urlocker, who a few decades ago helped catalyze the entire drive toward object-oriented programming while at Borland International. In a blog post this morning published by InfoWorld, Urlocker wrote, "Marten will continue to run MySQL inside of Sun. The founders and management team are on board."

"In the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to spend time with many folks over at Sun ranging from top execs to distinguished engineers and marketing managers," Urlocker also wrote. "All of them talk the talk and walk the walk. They understand open source. They understand innovation. They understand communities. And they understand what MySQL brings to the table. They are a straightforward bunch; no game playing. And their commitment to open source is as deep as any I've seen. For Sun it's not a religious issue, but it is part of an overall strategy to change the world. What could be better?"

A similar feeling was expressed by MySQL VP of Community Relations Kaj Arno, in a pair of blog posts this morning. Arno wrote, "It was my firm impression that the Sun guys we met have high expectations regarding what the MySQL founders can continue to contribute to the future of Sun."

Arno also mentioned two founding MySQL executives and co-authors specifically, Michael "Monty" Widenius and David Axmark, saying, "I can see their heritage being in good hands at Sun." Widenius authored the original implementation of MySQL...on Solaris. Since that time, it's been implemented in a flurry of languages and on a virtual planet full of platforms, often by MySQL AB, sometimes by others.

"Anxiety on the part of MySQL users may stem from Sun's success with Java and Solaris," added Arno. "Will MySQL's support for other programming languages and operating systems now be given less attention? Absolutely not. MySQL is still being managed by the same people, and the charter is still the same. There is no need for reducing the set of platforms or languages. It only makes sense for us to continue to support de facto Web development standards like LAMP, as well as emerging ones like Ruby and Eclipse. This deal is about addition, not subtraction."

Next: Will MySQL remain open...if it's "open" now?

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