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Gaining Advantage Through Acquisitions, Deals, Defections

Posted in Database, Deals, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Xen at 8:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How to defeat one’s rival by slurping in its foundations

At the moment, the news contains a very timely case study. From this news we can learn about Microsoft’s intent to devour its competition by conquering essential parts of it.

It’s MySQL which is currently under fire (or “under siege”, as one source puts it). Potential attackers include Oracle and IBM (separately, not jointly by any means). The news is about IBM buying Solid Information, which MySQL depends on.

“IBM’s acquisition of Solid Information Technology supports the company’s growth strategy and capital allocation model, and it is expected to contribute to the achievement of the company’s objective for earnings-per-share growth through 2010,” IBM said in a statement.

Solid was already a replacement for another piece which MySQL once depended on. Oracle snatched it during its extravagant open source ‘shopping spree’ a year or two ago. Oracle nicked InnoDB from its disruptive competitor, whose growth rate was alarming.

The latest news is about SolidDB as MySQL’s engine and disruption is courtesy of Big Blue. It’s actually interesting to find out that MySQL’s CEO used to work at Solid Information. So what exactly is going on there? Let’s explore by looking at the past couple of years.

”Oracle is essentially doing to MySQL what Microsoft intends to do to Linux.“Oracle loves GNU/Linux mainly because it enables Oracle to make money without relying on competitors, primarily IBM (e.g. for UNIX), Sun (for Solaris), and Microsoft (for Windows). Oracle denies that is has ulterior motives with Linux, but when it comes to open source acquisitions, there is clearly a plan there to steal software from MySQL, as well as other free open source software that poses risk to Oracle’s bread and butter — databases.

Oracle is essentially doing to MySQL what Microsoft intends to do to Linux. Microsoft wants everything that is FOSS to run on top of Windows. Compatibility and optimisation can lead to this, not to mention exclusionary contracts (money). Various deals with companies like Zend are paving the way. Then, come to consider acquisition-by-proxy strategies and look companies like XenSource.

As one person in Sun Microsystems said last week, the days of proprietary databases may be numbered, unless serious change is expected.

While Packer does not believe that proprietary databases are doomed, he does see the writing on the wall in emerging markets and that the increased use of open source will eventually surround proprietary databases in established markets. Unless the proprietary suppliers respond they risk losing business in the long-term.

It was mentioned on several occasions in the past that it’s often cheaper to pay a rival to quit competing, before that candidate competitor grows too big. It’s a ‘knife the baby’ attitude (a phrase used by Microsoft executives). That’s what we’ve been seeing a lot of recently. This includes Novell. Sometimes, intruding one pertinent part of a bigger (eco)system is enough to wreak havoc from the inside. All of this is possible as long as the FTC is paralyzed or when proxies (typically business partners) get used.

Getting back to the databases, companies like MySQL make them a commodity. As a matter of fact, more professionals have begun to acknowledge that it’s only a matter of time before Free software evolves and matures sufficiently in this area. Open source database are said to be highly suitable in many cases already.

Yes, more and more, depending on the application.

Oracle became the leading database in the 1990s because it ran better on high-end SMP Unix servers. But in those days most applications were still just dumb terminals talking to the big Unix box. So the database software had to be very sophisticated to perform well.

If you watch software like Mozilla’s Firefox or even Google’s search engine, it’s evident that open source foundations have a certain edge to offer. Attempts to derail these companies and projects are clearly something to watch out for. There are always strategy-driven disruptions similar to Yahoo’s acquisition of Zimbra and its effect, or even Microsoft (Citrix) and XenSource, as cited above. Oracle’s strategy was possibly mentioned here before. Oracle’s hijack of project is akin to Microsoft wanting to ‘steal’ FOSS projects from Linux and move them over to Windows, essentially leaving Linux ‘naked’ (application-less).

MySQL and [IBM|Oracle] != MySQL and Google

Let’s face it. IBM has proprietary software products that compete against MySQL. Which ones are going to bring more revenue to IBM? That remains an open question because competition broadens/lessens one’s customer base. As such, not only acquisition and support costs need be considered.

What are IBM’s motives then? First it was Oracle stealing pieces of MySQL and now this? Was this deliberate? Did IBM have MySQL in mind at all? Asay argue that MySQL suffers although it wasn’t IBM’s intention, but a side effect. The two companies are not foes. IBM has been close to MySQL, Consider this major news from several months ago:

IBM, MySQL team up on database software

Executives at IBM, the world’s No. 2 software maker, and MySQL told Reuters they will announce a technology and marketing partnership on Wednesday at a MySQL users’ conference in Santa Clara, California.

IBM should not be seen as an enemy or a great threat owing to its long dedication to Linux, among other Free software projects that it invests it (Eclipse springs to mind). DB2 and other products aside as a consideration, IBM needn’t fear MySQL.

Oracle is a different case altogether. Do remember that Oracle competes against MySQL at all costs. It once even threatened to ‘pull an Unbreakable’ on MySQL, essentially cloning MySQL or even forking it. Fortunately, that never materialized.

On the contrary, we have companies that are indifferent towards such conflicting interests. Google does not make databases. It uses SQLite in places, but that software is open source as well. I was once even told that they use PostgreSQL for certain tasks (that’s BSD-licensed). Google offered a lumps of patched to MySQL not so long ago.

Google long has been known to be a user of the open-source MySQL database software, but the search powerhouse this week published its own changes to the project.

As far as Google goes, it will be interesting to see what relationship they maintain with MySQL and others. It seems to be quite reciprocal.

It’s time to confess that databases are not something I’m intimately familiar with (personally, I just use and administer them, but haven’t programmed SQL in while). The same goes for the market ‘politics’ of databases, which is fast-changing. I’ll leave it for to the reader to decide whose motives are served and why. I’m also appending some references that I’ve accumulated in the past year or so. They are sorted quite logically or chronologically below and they contain selective quotes that tell a certain story.

MySQL Meets Solid

Solid: Boosting MySQL for Mission-Critical Users

MySQL is poised to attract keen attention from F1000s running mission-critical apps. A meaner, faster version of MySQL, dubbed solidDB for MySQL, is now in general availability (GA). Co-built by MySQL AB and Solid Information Technology, it cuts response times, boosts scalability, and processed 2x more transactions than Oracle InnoDB, say benchmarks.

Solid Unveils 2007 Roadmap of solidDB for MySQL

For the first time, MySQL users will be able to take advantage of these advanced capabilities that are required to preserve business continuity and provide high level of service to end-users.

Performance Benchmarks

Oracle still raves about benchmarks where Oracle’s product wins (on top of Linux, of course). Just a week ago:

oracle® database delivers record performance and price/performance for a two-processor x86-based system with tpc-c benchmark

“With this benchmark result, Oracle demonstrates that the combination of the Oracle Database and Oracle Enterprise Linux deliver both the best performance and the best price on the most popular low end ‘sweet spot’ — an x86 two socket Quad Core system,” said Juan Loaiza, senior vice president Systems Technology, Oracle.

It is worth adding that some analyst firms which are behind studies and benchmarks are in fact funded — at least in part — by Larry Ellison. Here are the reasons for Ellison to be worried.

PostgreSQL publishes first real benchmark

This publication shows that a properly tuned PostgreSQL is not only as fast or faster than MySQL, but almost as fast as Oracle (since the hardware platforms are different, it’s hard to compare directly). This is something we’ve been saying for the last 2 years, and now we can prove it.


I’ll continue this later this week with a discussion of what SpecJAppserver is, what it measures, and how the Spec organization is warming up to open source.

Regardless, this is a good day for PostgreSQL and open source.

MySQL runs fastest

InnoDB vs MyISAM vs Falcon benchmarks – part 1

Several days ago MySQL AB made new storage engine Falcon available for wide auditory. We cannot miss this event and executed several benchmarks to see how Falcon performs in comparison to InnoDB and MyISAM.


Method of benchmark:

1. Prepare table with 1,000,000 records (about 350Mb of data on disk)
2. Run each query for 1, 4, 16, 64, 128, 256 concurrent threads.
3. For each thread perform a warm-up run (duration 180 sec), and then run three effective runs (duration of each is 60 sec). As the final result we get a maximal result of three runs

MySQL AB Success Stories

MySQL prepares for IPO and reveals Oracle endorsement

“We are planning to go public,” Mickos told Computer Business Review in an exclusive interview, adding that the Uppsala, Sweden-based database management vendor is in no hurry to go public after raising $18.5m in Series C funding this time last year and $39m in total.

The Worth of Open Source? Open Question

MySQL, a fast-growing maker of database software used by some of the Internet’s most recognized brands, is preparing to file for an initial public offering, perhaps as soon as late 2007. The offering could value the company at between $600 million and $1 billion, according to sources, and inject some pep into a tech IPO market that’s seen only a handful of successful offerings in the past year. Credit Suisse (CS) is a top contender to lead the underwriting of the transaction, BusinessWeek has learned.

MySQL, Linux powers Web 2.0′ – O’Reilly

Without Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP many Web 2.0 companies would not exist today. This is according to Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media and the person most often credited for coining the term Web 2.0.

MySQL is the company’s SQL now…

Let’s face it; MySQL is a fabulous database engine. Not only is it free, it’s small, powerful and easy to drive. It also runs happily on free operating systems and so it can be used to create incredibly cost-effective database servers.

Real-time Linux vendor picks telecom database partner

The companies will work together to expand their telecom-specific consulting services around MySQL-powered software running on FSMLabs’s hard real-time enabled Carrier Grade Linux and BSD distributions, FSMLabs says.

More Related Resources

As if you could kill a dolphin by swallowing the ocean…

–Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL

Chris “Microsoft” Pirillo (Microsoft MVP) on Antitrust Settlement

Posted in America, Antitrust, FUD, Microsoft, Videos at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

That’s the type of loyalism Microsoft money (and brainwash) can buy.

Here is one obedient mouthpiece

It needn’t make you wonder why Chris is now living in Seattle. Paid-for, self-praising analysis is nothing out of the ordinary at Microsoft. Those whose career is dependent on Microsoft will be protective of that company unconditionally.

If you want to know the truth about Iowa, start here. That’s where you’ll find what Microsoft tried to hide as quickly as possible when decided to settle.

It continues to disturb how those who are paid by Microsoft strive to change public perception and rewrite history. This is just one such examples that was put online a few days ago and reached a large audience. It’s posted here only in the spirit of FUD fighting (putting things in context, not FUD spreading.

Samba to Become More Popular, Time to Think About Patents (Updated)

Posted in Apple, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Protocol, Samba, Servers, Standard at 4:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IANAL, but those 50 pence are here

A few days ago — and just in time for Christmas — we received some exciting news from the Samba team. From a technical point-of-view, barriers have been pulled thanks to Europe’s involvement and final decision, whose effectiveness was undervalued in the past.

”From what we can gather, what you have here is similar to Microsoft’s ‘promise’ not to sue Novell customers (they still can)“Samba’s milestone will contribute significantly to the adoption of GNU/Linux, not only at the expense of Windows, but also at the expense of some open protocols. Those protocols replaced Microsoft ones and thereby they removed patent issues away from the table.

Let’s put technical issues aside for a moment. There is one one negative thing which comes to mind. From what we can gather, what you have here is similar to Microsoft’s ‘promise’ not to sue Novell customers (they still can). Most journalists, none of whom are lawyers, seem very optimistic nonetheless. It’s great news, but it doesn’t seem so perfect. Ideal scenarios would involve no patents at al. We think about binding contracts rather than promises. Anyway, that’s just a case of pondering a worst case scenarios.

In other breaking patent news (timely reminder of the devil in the details):

1. Nokia, InterDigital claim patent case victory

Nokia filed a complaint in July 2005 asking the High Court to declare that 31 of InterDigital’s European patents were not essential to the UMTS standard, saying the it was proactively defending itself from potential infringement suits in Europe by InterDigital.

2. Vonage and AT&T Finalize Settlement

Vonage and AT&T have entered into a definitive agreement to settle their patent dispute, the companies announced today. The companies had agreed in principle to a settlement on November 7.

3. Apple Applies For Automatic Shutdown and Piracy-Fighting Patents

The US Patent Office has revealed a number of recent patent filings by Apple.


Apple has thus-far resisted industry trends towards activation of software, and currently only uses such methods in some of its most costly professional software. While it is clear that Apple has been working on methods to combat piracy, it remains to be seen how far Apple will employ the methods in its software. Readers are reminded that only a portion of the applications filed end up making it to shipping products.

It would not be wise to simply ignore patents, including software patents. At this time when OOXML is a hotly-debated issue, consider this:

Free software developers cares about the software they write. They care about licenses and boring legal stuff. Unfortunately Microsoft makes it illegal to make OOXML integration for individual developers. When Sun makes an OOXML converter to ODF, they are a company and got the legal team to handle the licensing issues. I suggest you yourself, since you don’t care of legal risks, tries to implement Suns OOXML->ODF in KOffice based on the work from Sun Microsystems. But it seems that you don’t know about this things in depth to do it your self. If that true, I think you should put your money where your month is. Instead of letting others live with the legal risks implementing OOXML, you should pay any legal cost for the developers who supports MS OOXML as you suggests. Or don’t you care about that either?

Supporting Microsoft formats and protocols is never the ideal route to achieving anything. It promotes reliance and dependability. It often involves legal risks, but then again, pragmatism gets in the way. Balancing the desire for freedom and the embrace of proprietary, patent-encumbered ‘gifts’ remains key.

Microsoft has a bone to pick and a saber to rattle.

Update: having shared some of this information here, it seems clear that “software patents remain largely unaddressed.” This confirms the suspicion raised above.

Novell/Microsoft Contract for OOXML Support May Still Have Influence in the GNOME Foundation

Posted in Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 4:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s a tough reality, but someone needs to grok it

Miguel de Icaza may no longer be the President of the GNOME Foundation, but Jeff Waugh has just admitted that Miguel is still a member of the Foundation. He recently admitted that Miguel also had little influence in GNOME and, as we already know, Novell supports OOXML. Miguel loves it. Here it an interesting bit of information:

Planet GNOME
written by Jeff Waugh, December 20, 2007
Miguel is still a GNOME Foundation member and included on Planet GNOME because we actually show respect for our past contributors, even if they are not *directly* active in the GNOME project itself anymore. These facts do not demonstrate any influence over the GNOME Foundation or GNOME development whatsoever.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSEThere was an attempt to retract the “little impact” [of Miguel] remark. The above can be interpreted as “a membership does not demonstrate influence”. Nevertheless, it neither falsifies or annuls the possibility that there remains influence. It’s a question of cause.

Why would there not be influence (even if it’s small in terms of impact)? As we stated yesterday, Novell will always have some influence in GNOME because there’s an intersection that is unavoidable. It’s like Java and JavaScript, not Car and Carpet. There’s resemblance and practical commonality. Any attempt to deny this will be weak. By association — thinking transitively — Microsoft gets its bit of impact in GNOME, via Novell.

There’s a good rebuttal at the end:

Spin must stop, Waugh
written by samv, December 22, 2007
I am using version 2.4.6 of Abiword and I cannot see any way to create a document in .odt format.

I am using version 1.6.3 of Gnumeric and when I save a document all I can see with regard to .odt is Open Office OASIS_UNFINISHED_

You can’t be half-pregnant – you either have support for .odt or not.

Please stop spinning and speak the truth for once.

There’s a good (and very long) conversation right there in the comments, so it’s worth a quick glance.

KDE has recently response to this issue as well. One noteworthy post explains that “Nobody support Ecma OOXML, not even Microsoft”.

You are spot on when it comes to supporting the old MS Office 1997 format. But as mention above, Microsoft them self don’t support Ecma OOXML. And Microsoft prohibits individual developers to use Ecma OOXML. ISO comities around the world voted against standardization of OOXML in its current form. Thousands of issues has to be addressed if OOXML gonna represent a transition format from old MS Office documents to a “modern” one. This is the main goal for Microsoft, but they have not delivered on promised, as the ISO standardization process shows.

It is very important that the GNOME Foundation stands up and supports standards while shunning proprietary formats that are neither out there in the wild nor seen as capable of being implemented.

OOXML: Both a Patent Mess and a Technical Mess

Posted in Asia, ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, SCO, Standard at 3:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following new report about China’s UOF tells an interesting story.

While the total conversion potential was roughly equal in the case of both UOF/ODF and UOF/OOXML, conversions in either direction between UOF and ODF were found to be significantly easier to accomplish than with UOF and OOXML.


So what can be done? The most obvious way to avoid an unending series of standards wars – assuming that there is still time to do so – is for IT standards development organizations to try much harder to avoid the adoption of standard that require onerous financial and other licensing terms.

There are several points to be made here:

  1. The patent trouble that is embodied in OOXML is being acknowledged by more and more nations
  2. The inelegance of OOXML is proving to be a technical barrier
  3. Convergence is seen as crucial, but only one company (and its bought proxies) stands in the way

More can be learned by reading the article above in full. Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to essentially hide all that ugly OOXML cruft. It hopes that nobody will notice that its incomplete specifications have proprietary extensions, serious bugs, an issue of human-readability and many other deficiencies. Here are some of the gory details.

Microsoft moves the hot potatoes in a ‘deprecated’ basket


Moving the hot potato in an ‘optional’ annex is not a solution. The solution is to remove those horrors out of the standard, not to sideline with a solution that please the vendor.

GNU on televisionIn the post cited above, ECMA is rightly described as a proxy. Microsoft loves to hide its presence behind seemingly-independent agents. We find this in analysts, in lawsuits and attacks, and even secrets payments made to SCO. There are heaps of examples, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. The only thing to be aware of is that there is media control which discriminates against Free software [1, 2, 3], all on behalf of wealthy sponsors.

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