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MySQL road show stresses enterprise cred

MySQL execs took to the road this week, talking up the database’s increasing relevance to big businesses.

The message at a Boston event Tuesday night, was that Sun Microsystems’ buyout of the open source database company gives MySQL easier entry into very large accounts.

“We’re getting in to see Fortune 100 companies that would have been really hard for us before,” said Zach Urlocker, vice president of products for Sun’s MySQL group.

“Very large companies are doing their open-source strategies. They used to be IBM or Oracle [database] shops but even though the technology scales, the economics don’t’ scale,” he said.

Many customers “feel totally abused by their database vendor,” said Urlocker. “They have to deal with pricing per core, per thread per CPU. We’re a subscription per server for all you can eat. They’re tired of jumping through hoops trying to optimize for their license,” he said while an audience member yelled “not to mention any names.”

At the event Sun execs and some MySQL partners talked up OpenSolaris and its ZFS file system as a robust and inexpensive platform for MySQL, especially in enterprise situations. MySQL’s top three operating systems are Linux, Windows and Solaris, in that order, Urlocker said.

Richard Newman, managing partner and certified information security systems professional for Reliant Security, said his company uses MySQL and OpenSolaris in an appliance that helps retailers meet onerous PCI security requirements. They looked at Solaris but there “the issue would have been cost.” he noted.

Reliant replaced pricey Cisco 3000 hardware in the solution with Sun hardware, and moved into a less expensive open source world. One customer uses the appliance to cover 750 retail outlets.

Joshua Rand, CEO of Sapotek, maker of the Desktoptwo web desktop is a MySQL proponent and moved off of Red Hat and its Global File System (GFS) to OpenSolaris and ZFS.

Rand said Sapotek originally looked at the Windows .Net toolset, but found it would have been too expensive. “With LAMP we got just as good or better than we would have in Windows,” he said.

That these two customers/partners were moving to OpenSolaris–one from Linux and one after considering Solaris–begs the question of whether the operating system is eroding Sun’s paid-for Solaris operating system base. And Urlocker’s stance that MySQL is gaining ground in the enterprise backs up the contention of some Oracle partners that Sun is now more an Oracle rival than an ally.

Oracle and Sun were joined at the hip when they both fought Microsoft and IBM. Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy took turns disparaging Windows and the IBM menace. Oracle databases ran like the wind on big Sun Solaris servers. But then Oracle stepped up on Windows and subsequently really really, really embraced Linux. Probably worse from Sun’s point of view, Oracle recruited Dell as a full-fledged hardware partner. Ouch.

Now both Oracle and Sun field their own software stacks and have both accommodated the open-source groundswell in their own ways.That means a lot of overlap.

After the Dell rift, and more than a year before Sun announced the MySQL buy, Oracle partners reported that Sun reps were pushing non-Oracle databases, even IBM’s DB2, in joint Sun-Oracle accounts. Expect to see a lot more effort to push MySQL into those accounts now.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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