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Gaining Advantage Through Acquisitions, Deals, Defections

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

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