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1/24/2008
10:00 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Can Sun Make Dolphins Fly? It Probably Shouldn't

When Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote the headline, "Helping Dolphins Fly," it set off a chain reaction. He was referring, of course, to Sun's acquisition of MySQL. The dolphin's image is the trademark of the open source database company. What's going to happen when MySQL is folded into Sun? SunnySQL, suggested one blogger, Evil_Work, who was no doubt inspired by Schwartz' flight of fancy. And the excess was just getting started.

When Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote the headline, "Helping Dolphins Fly," it set off a chain reaction. He was referring, of course, to Sun's acquisition of MySQL. The dolphin's image is the trademark of the open source database company. What's going to happen when MySQL is folded into Sun? SunnySQL, suggested one blogger, Evil_Work, who was no doubt inspired by Schwartz' flight of fancy. And the excess was just getting started.Nobody remembers the 1959 play A Raisin In The Sun, except the blogger, Sami, who titled his thoughts, Dolphin in the Sun.

"It will be interesting to see how many stick to MySQL and keep the LAMP burning, despite the dawn of Sun, and how many will look for alternatives, such as Postgresql, and put off lamp for LAPP," he wrote.

I regret to say, with that, things were just starting to heat up.

I was momentarily distracted from the news as the research group, Ovum, put out a hurried Jan. 17 assessment by senior analysts Laurent Lachal and Ian Brown, "Sun Bags the L in LAMP." The L, of course, stands for Linux, and no matter how much money Sun is willing to spend that it doesn't have, it hadn't bagged the L. An Ovum correction swiftly followed, saying there had been a transcription mistake. I've tried, but it's hard to hit L when you mean to type M.

Cal Evans, editor of Zend Developer Zone, cited a recommendation from a friend, Michael Kimsal, that a new open source stack was about to be born, based on Solaris rather than Linux. It would be Solaris, PHP, Apache, and MySQL, also known as SPAM.

It was only appropriate, then, that someone should ask, "Do you need a LAMP, if you have Sun?"

If Sun does produce its own integration software stack, and that stack includes Solaris, as of course it would, then Sun will once again have to change its stock ticker symbol, recently redubbed JAVA, to SOLR, suggested Andi Gutmans, the tongue-in-cheek CTO at Zend Technologies.

Maybe Sun shouldn't worry about helping dolphins fly. It's enough that MySQL has swum as well as it has for as long as it has against the tide of proprietary databases. Let's leave well enough alone. There are lessons to be learned from its example. MySQL has shown what skillful development and community building can do. It's a lot more than just staying afloat.

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