Top MySQL Officials Leave Sun

After months of mounting dissatisfaction with the way Sun Microsystems was evolving the MySQL database, the founders of the popular open source vendor have decided to move on.

Sun today confirmed that Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL and senior vice president of Sun's database group, will leave the company by the end of next month. This comes just one day after Founder Michael "Monty" Widenius, the key developer of MySQL, announced his departure on his blog, and slightly more than one year after Sun Microsystems announced its $1 billion acquisition of MySQL.

In his blog posting, Widenius said he was not satisfied with the way the newest release of the MySQL server was developed, an issue he had been vocal about in his blog for some time. "In particular I would have liked to see the server development to be moved to a true open development environment that would encourage outside participation and without any need of differentiation on the source code," he wrote. "Sun has been considering opening up the server development, but the pace has been too slow."

Widenius is planning to form a new venture called Monty Program Ab which he said "will be a true open source company."

Despite his frustration, Widenius added that he still believes Sun was the best company to acquire MySQL. "Sun has a lot of good things going on and I hope that they will continue their path to create and promote open source. I will be available for Sun in helping them with their goals in the open source space," he wrote.

Indeed, much of founders' dissatisfaction was probably the result of typical culture clash, said Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond. "It's an inevitable consequence of being part of a large company," Hammond said. But 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett described the departures as a significant loss for Sun.

"This needn't be a complete disaster -- the same thing happened at JBoss and Red Hat has recovered from that. But this is going to be a serious test for Sun's ability to maximize on the potential of MySQL and its other open source assets," Aslett wrote in a blog posting. "Even with Marten and Monty leaving, Sun still has some very good MySQL staff (not to mention some of its own), but steadying the ship will take some work."

Amid the departures, Sun has combined its Software Infrastructure organization with its database group to form a combined open source product organization. The company has tapped Karen Tegan Padir, vice president of MySQL and Software Infrastructure, to head the combined group.

"The combined organization -- MySQL and Software Infrastructure -- will deliver open platforms for Web-oriented architecture, spanning identity, applications servers, databases and application integration," the company said in a prepared statement. "This change puts MySQL into the mainstream of software at Sun and better positions Sun to harness the power of products such as MySQL, GlassFish and Identity manager by driving even tighter linkages between all software properties."

Sun already reports revenues for the combined group. For the second fiscal quarter ended Dec. 28, Sun last week reported revenues for the group of $81 million, up 55 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, closely held open source database provider Ingres Corp. this week reported revenues of $68 million for the 2008 calendar year, up 32 percent over 2007.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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