I sincerely hope that Sun is no longer the place that promising ideas and projects go to die. To be fair they’ve been innovating and open-sourcing some great stuff like zfs, solaris and java. Of course, having a pony-tailed CEO is not the same as having a coherent strategy. If you consider the potential of MySQL the acquisition price seems like a major bargain. They were also on the brink of making an IPO. I wonder why they bailed at the last minute?
As mentioned in the official posts, a lot of IT departments actually want to pay for open source offerings. It helps sooth the accounting department and it acts as a safety net for incompetent or inexperienced engineers to deploy technology. It hardly matters if they’re the exact same product. I had the recent pleasure of using Red Hat Enterprise Linux on a server. There’s really not much different from CentOS (its open source counterpart) and in fact you can upgrade/switch RHEL to CentOS seamlessly. The only difference is you can’t use RHEL’s up2date package management without registering an email address and having a valid support contract (this one ran out). I had to think for a minute, okay I need to register an email and pay for support or switch to the open source version where this just works out the box. I wonder.
I guess that’s the reality of enterprise software vending. I’m not saying engineers in large organizations are all third-rate. However, they do attract their share of people with all the right credentials and none of the required skills. There are brilliant hackers in any organization but a lot of the really brilliant engineers strike out on their own or are attracted to organizations with the most toys, intellectual stimulation, and freedom. Right now that’s Google. They’re also the least likely to let a vendor dictate the terms.
The reason I took this digression is that there’s not escaping the fact that IT will continue to grow and make inroads into the corporate even more than it is now. Unfortunately, engineering talent doesn’t grow on trees. This means that you have to adjust for the quality of recruits by other means and in many cases that might mean enterprise support. We’ll see how it all plays out. The people at MySQL certainly deserve the recognition and cash for all they’ve done. Of course, the community plays a major part in an open source project of this scale but sometimes we tend to forget the importance and difficulty of fostering such a community and this is where MySQL shines.