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Jonathan Schwartz: "Web Developers Never Had It So Good"

"We paid a control premium to convince [MySQL's] board to go with Sun, obviously"

"Web developers never had it so good..." gushed Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz last week as he contemplated how in addition to Glassfish and NetBeans, millions of developers could now look to Sun to provide them with MySQL - which, as of February 26, is now officially a part of Sun.

"We'll work hard to ensure MySQL flies like a dolphin on Linux, Windows and Solaris, and on systems built by Dell, IBM, HP, Intel, AMD, Sun, Fujitsu (ie, everyone)," declared Schwartz in his popular industry blog.

Schwartz, continuing his tradition of corporate candor, explained in detail the thinking behind Sun's $1BN acquisition of MySQL. First he makes a preliminary observation:

"There is a clear economic model behind open source, eloquently summarized by Marten Mickos, MySQL's CEO: the spectrum describing the marketplace spans those with more time than money, who form the user and developer communities around free software; and those with more money than time, who purchase commercial support contracts typically in more mature enterprises.

To win in the long run, you have to win on both sides of the spectrum - with the same product. Crippling products, or sneaky licensing exceptions don't work - freedom does."

Then Schwartz gets down and dirty and discusses the price he paid:

"In terms of the price we paid for MySQL (roughly $800m in cash, $200m in assumed options), we thought about it this way - first, the standalone business, unenhanced by Sun, was on a ramp to an IPO. The IPO would've been priced, by our calculations, at near the purchase price we paid. Remember, we're buying a financial asset as well as a strategic one.

We paid a control premium to convince their board to go with Sun, obviously. But then we figured we could amplify their success as a software company by aligning with Sun's 17,000+ person global sales/service/support/channel organization - we can together reach a far broader customer set than MySQL could on their own, which generates upside for Sun. And, although a small (but growing) percentage of their downloads convert to purchase orders, 100% of those downloads require a hardware purchase - for many, a server and storage device (for just as many, a laptop). We'd like to believe we can earn some of that business with solutions optimized for MySQL - even if the end customer isn't (yet) paying for software.

Finally, remember that database licenses often make up a considerable part of any company's budget - to the extent we can introduce new options for those customers (even via the appearance of a well designed coffee mug on the procurement agent's desk), we can free up budgets for new investments. Which drives more customers to seek out Sun - vendors that save money with better performance are well liked.

Net/net, we believe we paid a fair price."

For those not so much interested in the business aspect of things as the technical side, Schwart'z blog post also had plenty to offer. "Since the announcement, I've seen and heard near universal support for the relationship," he wrote, adding that "most everyone wants to know where we're headed."

He then offered a quick overview of Sun's initial plans:

"Starting today, we're rolling out global programs to raise awareness and adoption of MySQL among more established enterprises - you'll see ads like this (to the right) targeting institutions and independent software/service vendors (ISV's) looking to standardize on open source architectures. As the ad highlights, we're introducing global, enterprise support programs for MySQL - offering the largest institutions on earth a new option in mission critical deployment. We are going all out to sign up new customers, extending MySQL's reach.

The overall message is simple: we're bringing our largest customers the innovation and performance the world's most important on-line companies are already experiencing - giving them the option of putting MySQL into global, mission critical deployment.

Internally, the more than 10,000 people that make up the Sun engineering community - of which the MySQL team is now a core part - have begun to engage across a dizzying array of touchpoints."

Schwartz ended his posting in characteristic manner, accentuating the positive: "It's truly a great day for free software - and for the growing majority of companies across the globe that look to open solutions for choice, value and innovation."

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Enterprise Open Source News Desk trawls the fast-growing world of Professional Open Source for business-relevant items of news, opinion, and insight.

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