Five-digit fees from Sun's MySQL could actually save businesses millions

Sun Microsystems hopes to expand GlassFish and MySQL use with a new Glassfish and MySQL Unlimited initiative aimed at corporations looking to deploy open source software.

Sun Microsystems announced last week it will bundle GlassFish with MySQL in a new program called Glassfish and MySQL Unlimited, which will offer companies the ability to deploy these products an unlimited number of times, for a fixed annual fee.

"We have been working really hard at creating a compelling offering for customers that want to be freed from proprietary database and application server vendors that are arbitrarily raising their prices," Sun VP of Marketing Mark Herring said in a blog post.

Glassfish is an open source application server spearheaded by Sun for use with its Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) platform. MySQL is an open source database software program that Sun acquired earlier in the year, in a billion-dollar purchase to strengthen its competitive position against Oracle and Microsoft.

Companies with less than 1,000 employees will be able to use Glassfish and MySQL Unlimited for $65,000 per year, with two other tiers for companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees and companies with more than 5,000 employees. Sun did not disclose pricing information for the two other tiers.

Sun reported servers running 20 dual-CPU, dual-core x86 hardware and databases that run 10 dual-CPU, dual core x86 servers will on average cost at least $3 million over a three year span. Companies can instead choose to use the Glassfish and MySQL Unlimited program and only pay $240,000 over the three-year program, for a savings of $2.76 million.

The pricing scheme was actually a MySQL component that Sun ended up acquiring, and several employees within MySQL did not expect Sun to embrace it.

Sun's price cut comes at the same time Oracle announced it will increase the cost of its database software up to $47,500 per CPU. But instead of expecting customers to replace Oracle technology for Sun software, the Glassfish and MySQL Unlimited program is more designed for new customers looking for low-cost programs.

It wasn't long ago when companies were hesitant to switch to open source in the enterprise, but manufacturers have addressed their concerns with innovative pricing and support schemes. Open source technology can be deployed for a lower price than commercial software, but companies such as Sun make money from software support when something goes wrong. Furthermore, proprietary compliance issues and license fees are often removed when companies switch from standard commercial enterprise software to open source alternatives.

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