[Important correction: mind the comments. Changes to the business plan, if any, were made before the acquisition.]
We have recently seen a good share of criticisms of Sun Microsystems, but they probably deserve trust (or the benefit of the doubt) where they have not caused any harm. Here is an interesting new observation which is made by Matt Aslett now that the acquisition of MySQL has been finalised:
Sun limits MySQL Enterprise Unlimited
A little less loudly the company has also confirmed that it has tinkered with the terms of MySQL Enterprise Unlimited, the site-wide agreement introduced in January last year that provided unlimited use of MySQL Enterprise for $40,000, the same price Oracle charges per CPU for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition.
MySQL Enterprise Unlimited is proof of the open source model’s ability to disrupt a market but also effectively places a cap on the revenue MySQL – and now Sun – can earn per customer. Or at least it used to. As the small print on Sun’s MySQL product page indicates, while Enterprise Unlimited still allows for adoption on any number of servers, the offer is now only available to companies with 400 employees or less.
Limits are not a nice thing. It’s a little concerning in light of this other news about Sun’s plan to acquire more companies (it recently snatched Innotek, but the acquisition seems benign so far).
Sun Microsystems said Tuesday that it has completed its acquisition of open-source database company MySQL for about $1 billion–and now is turning its attention to other acquisitions.
It does not say if these acquisitions will involve open source or not. And in any event, Microsoft has similar plans, based on what Steve Ballmer said back in October.
This is not a case of complaining about Sun, but it is important that we know what business model Sun intends to adopt for MySQL or open source in general (dreadful dual-licensing with CDDL comes to mind).
I’ve asked Simon Phipps (in his blog) to comment on this one. If I receive a response, I’ll share it here. █
Update: to Sun’s credit, according to the second article, “MySQL is governed by version 2 of the General Public License (GPL) since 2000, but the company likely will move to GPLv3, Mickos said.” That is truly a change because about a year ago, Mickos told Matt Aslett that he would stick with GPLv2. Well done, Sun.
Update #2: Here is the response to my question to Simon Phipps:
“I’m expecting Mårten to adjust all of MySQL’s business practices now they are part of Sun, without harming any established loyalties (so everyone is saying GNU/Linux is the priority for MySQL for example).
In this case it seems that they want the “Unlimited” plan to be aimed at small (presumably growing) business and are leaving room for a new plan for the sort of enterprises Sun deals with. What’s the concern? I don’t see an obvious Free software issue (but then again the coffee hasn’t cut in yet this morning).“
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Sun Microsystems has been an exceptionally polite and forthcoming company recently. It managed to be credited for a lot of things and its contribution with software such as OpenOffice.org must not be forgotten. It is irksome, however, when voices from within the company send out some warning signals. Let it be more specific and explicit for a moment.
When Sun acquires Free software projects and their parent companies, people raise many questions, especially with regard to motive. Sun’s acquisition of MySQL, for instance, may be fine news for Free software, but not for Linux.
Last week, DisinformationWeek published the following article.
CEO Schwartz says that the Solaris, Java, virtualization, MySQL combo is best for development.
MySQL brings another key set of developers, the users of the integrated open source LAMP stack, he said. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP or Perl. The “L” doesn’t have to be taken literally, he added. Sun can and will substitute Solaris for Linux in the stack.
You can hopefully see where it is heading. MySQL might, after all, not only be a route for entering customers’ turf and selling hardware to them. With Solaris, Sun has greater control.
Those protective of Sun would speak about OpenSolaris and the companies’ general openness (CDDL critique aside). But in the past few days alone there were two incidents reported, in addition to others which we can find and post here given some further (re)search:
From the 14th of this month:
Roy Fielding finally quit the OpenSolaris community today, see his resignation letter. The kettle finally boiled over and the realization come to many (but not all) that Sun is publishing their Solaris code for marketing purposes, rather than creating an independent, community-led, open source project with the ability to make real decisions.
This one is also very recent: Sun Confirms Inflexability & Community Disregard
On Monday OGB Chairman Rich Teer posted Sun’s answer (crafted by Mr Bill Franklin with the assistance of Mr. Simon Phipps) to the OGB’s request for clarification regarding the highly controversial decision to name Project Indiana “OpenSolaris”. The issue is highly mixed, on one hand you have Sun Microsystems looking for a way to monetize OpenSolaris, on the other hand they are redefining the term “OpenSolaris”, around which everything is based, without a single regard for the community.
It would be hasty to any draw comparisons to Microsoft’s Port 25 here, because Microsoft does not touch GPL (not directly anyway. For that it has proxies like Citrix). Going further back to the end of November 2007 there is the following memorable story:
Sun bullied, used threats to gain control of open source project, former owner says
Sun used strong-arm tactics and made threats to the owners of an open-source directory project to wrestle away control, according to one of the former owners and creators of the project.
Sun later defended its stance and told its own side of the story. A bad taste in some people’s mouths remained nonetheless. Early in the year Andy Morton said explicitly that there would be no merge with OpenSolaris. There was also great resistance to ZFS, which Oracle’s btrfs might render unnecessary anyway.
A recent discussion on the lkml examined the possibility of a Linux implementation of Sun’s ZFS. It was pointed out that the file system is released under the GPL-incompatible CDDL, and that Sun has filed numerous patents to prevent ZFS from being reverse engineered.
Mind the mentioning of software patents again. We mentioned this when Sun announced its acquisition of MySQL. Lastly, here is another memorable incident.
Save a Penguin, Unplug a Linux Server’ May Win Most-Flamable E-Mail Award
I just got an e-mail from Sun which is probably the largest violation of L. Ron Hubbard’s Survey tech that I’ve ever seen. It was an e-mail with the title of, “Save a Penguin – Unplug a Linux Server Today”.
This post is far from being anti-Sun. Some of Sun’s fine software products were advocated here before simply because they are appreciated. But there remains this possibility that egocentricity (not anything too sinister) is playing a considerable role, so it’s something to be aware of and cautious about. █
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The Sun-GPL saga continues. As you may recall, Sun has some interest in GPLv3 as a competitive differentiator and its choice of a licence could also affect the licence of the Linux kernel. Yesterday, Dana Gardner came out with a word on Sun’s latest stance on licences.
Sun demurs from adopting GPL v3 for OpenSolaris, keeps CDDL only
On the other hand, there may be highly positive long-term effects that protect users, build bridges to the Apache community, close patent infringement loopholes (you know what I mean), and that bring more low-risk open source use to more organizations (and spur them on as contributors) in a mission critical sense. Sun should be for that, no? But here’s where they are at…
Dana quotes some relevant new E-mails that shed more light. The day before that, PCWorld published another article on the matter, but it remained quite inconclusive.
Sun CEO Mum on GPLv3, Reveals Licensing Hopes
Then he added, “One of my great fantasies in life is that the number of people with opinions on open source licenses will come roughly into balance with the number of people who have read them.”
It will very interesting to see where (and when) Sun adopts GPLv3.
Related old articles:
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