MySQL Keynote: An Open Source Love Fest

Sun Microsystems's acquisition of MySQL was "a billion-dollar vote for the LAMP stack." That's how former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, now senior vice president in Sun's Database Group, characterized the deal during his keynote speech at this week's MySQL Conference and Expo. "It's a game-changing move in the industry, and we can all be proud that it's happening," he said.

MySQL has been a key component of the open source software stack known as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/Python/PHP).

Mickos kicked off the annual event, which is underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif. Speaking before a crowd of cheering MySQL and Sun employees, he talked about the common vision and culture of the two organizations.

"We are similar cultures in that we debate among ourselves a lot," he said. "The vision, too, is very similar. Where Sun says, 'The network is the computer,' we've always said that we wanted to be the best database in that network. Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon stage, but I love it."

Sun paid approximately $1 billion for the developer of the world's most popular open source database. That deal was completed in February; at the time, Sun announced the immediate availability of free downloads of MySQL's complete portfolio.

Smiling, happy faces greeted Mickos, who was introduced to the audience as "our illustrious leader." However, critics of the merger have suggested that an open source company like MySQL -- which is small (about 400 employees), with a widely distributed workforce -- might wither under a large, historically proprietary software vendor like Sun. For some, it's worse than that. Such critics feel that the future of the enormously popular open source MySQL database is in jeopardy. According to statistics from Netcraft (which Mickos himself cited), there are approximately 12 million installed users of the database.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz was on hand to confront critics of the merger. "Do you all want to know our secret agenda?" Schwartz asked the crowd. "It's to serve the [open source] community. Each one of those folks represents an opportunity for Sun."

Schwartz sat down in the CEO's chair at Sun two years ago this month. Under his leadership, the company has moved dramatically into deep open source waters. Sun's open source initiatives include:

  • The Solaris Enterprise System, an open source OS infrastructure platform;
  • Linux from Sun, a GNU/Linux distro;
  • StarOffice, a free office productivity suite;
  • NetBeans, an open source IDE; and
  • OpenSPARC, an open source project based on the 64-bit, multithreaded UltraSPARC T1 processor.

The company also collaborates with the OpenJDK and Glassfish open source communities.

It's a great time to be an open sourcer, Schwartz said. "If you're in the open source community, you've got your pick of jobs," Schwartz said. "Right now, there's so much innovation and so many companies that want to figure out how they can leverage open source to improve their business or change their business."

Mickos also announced a "near-final" release candidate of MySQL 5.1. Sun is holding back the production release to shake a few more bugs. The 5.0 version was a buggy release, Mickos admitted.

"When we released MySQL 5.0, it didn't really meet our quality standards," he said. "With 5.1 we are being much more conservative, much harder on ourselves."

The production release probably won't be available until the end of June, but the release candidate is now available for download here.

The conference keynote festivities also included an awards presentation. The awards for "2008 MySQL Application of the Year" went to the FaceBook social network, Virgin Mobile France's Mobile Operator and eBay's e-commerce site.

Partner of the year awards went to Zmanda, the open source backup project; Computacenter, a UK-based IT services and infrastructure provider; and Microsoft for its efforts to support MySQL on Windows. The list of Community Member of the Year winners included Baron Schwartz, recognized as best Code Contributor; Diego Medina, best Quality Contributor; and Sheeri Kritzer Cabral, best Community Advocate.

This year's MySQL Conference and Expo was the largest to date, organizers said, with approximately 2,000 attendees and 55 exhibitors.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at


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