Sun Microsystems announced this morning that it has agreed to acquire open source database leader MySQL AB for $1 billion in cash and assumed stock options. (Disclosure: I am on the board of directors of MySQL, and O’Reilly co-produces the MySQL User Conference with MySQL. In addition, O’Reilly produces the java.net community site for Sun.)
This seems to me to be a great deal both for Sun and for MySQL. Anyone who follows this blog or has heard my talks will have seen me say “Data is the Intel Inside” of the next generation of internet applications, the very heart of Web 2.0. And of course, most of those Web 2.0 applications are built on the LAMP stack, where M stands for MySQL, far and away the leading open source database.
Years ago, John Gage, Sun’s chief scientist, made the provocative statement “the network is the computer.” And bit by bit, the industry has been realizing that dream. What we didn’t understand when we first started thinking about that emerging network operating system was just how much it would be a data-oriented system, such that you might more accurately say, “the network plus the database is the computer.”
The acquisition is also a great fit because Sun has staked its future on open source, releasing its formerly proprietary crown jewels, including Solaris, Java, and the Ultra-Sparc processor design. But even beyond those relatively recent moves, Sun was arguably the first great open source success story, co-founded by Bill Joy, who not only led the Berkeley Unix project but wrote the open source TCP/IP stack on which so much of the internet was built. And even leaving out other open source projects at the company such as openoffice.org and netbeans, Sun has long been the single largest corporate contributor to the open source ecosystem. (For further support for that claim, see page 51 in last year’s EU study on open source software [pdf].)
This has been a bit of a lightning courtship, and I haven’t had a chance to discuss yet with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz just how he plans to take advantage of MySQL’s leadership position in the open source and internet-connected database market, but I do think that there is great potential for both companies. With one bold stroke, Sun has reshaped both the database and open source landscape. We’re all going to be chewing on the implications for some time.
Update: Jonathan’s blog includes details on Sun’s plans for MySQL. Zack Urlocker, MySQL’s Executive VP of Products, has a blog post on Infoworld explaining the vision from the MySQL point of view.