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2/12/2009
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MySQL Exits May Open Sun Customers To Other Databases

Staffers still at Sun have picked up the pieces and moved on under Kaj Arno's lead.

The CEO of EnterpriseDB, an open source database company, said the departures of MySQL authors David Axmark and Michael Widenius and former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos from Sun Microsystems will open the door a little wider to competing open source systems.

Ed Boyajian is the former general manager of North American sales at Red Hat, joining EnterpriseDB as CEO last June. He said the Axmark/Widenius/Mickos departures "have got to have an impact on the plans and strategies for MySQL" but declined to speculate what the internal to Sun impacts might be. He cited Widenius' blog that said Sun didn't want to create a community around MySQL as fast as Widenius wanted to and noted that PostgreSQL has a strong community.

"We've helped develop the community-based model. PostgreSQL has one of the purest open source developer communities," with many outsiders able to contribute features and functionality, he said.

Boyajian noted that the MySQL open source database made its name as a high-performance, read-only system for serving Web pages, but open source "PostgreSQL also performs remarkably well in read-intensive environments," said Boyajian.

EnterpriseDB commercializes the PostgreSQL open source database as Postgres Plus, but in the past, it's rarely crossed swords with MySQL, which maintains a much broader customer base, particularly among developers of Web applications.

EnterpriseDB has previously billed its system as a potential replacement for Oracle, since the PostgreSQL development team has achieved a high degree of ANSI-standard SQL compliance. MySQL has lagged on that front, concentrating on performance issues instead. EnterpriseDB salesmen tell prospects who are Oracle customers that their negotiating power with Oracle will increase if they only implement one instance of Postgres Plus on their premises.

Despite the departures, MySQL staffers still at Sun picked up the pieces and moved on, although sometimes doing so with an air of resignation.

Zack Urlocker was Mickos' right-hand man at MySQL AB, supervising both engineering and marketing. On Feb. 6, his online blogging partner, Savio Rodrigues, a product manager in IBM's WebSphere line, wrote: "Losing Marten is unfortunate. He was a rational and highly pragmatic thinker in the open source arena. ... This is a blow to Sun and its open source street cred, but it's not insurmountable. ... Marc Fleury and a long list of key executives left Red Hat after the acquisition of JBoss. And yet JBoss is still performing well."

Kaj Arno, appointed head of the MySQL online community by Mickos in 2005, now VP of community relations at Sun, blogged Feb. 6, the day of Mickos' departure: "While parting ways can be very painful, I am certain that MySQL's culture and business philosophy will live on in Sun, thanks largely to Marten's contribution. ...

"The key point to remember here," he wrote, "is that MySQL the product remains alive and well. Sun is completely committed to building a big open source business."

In response to Arno's posting, Urlocker himself wrote: "It’s definitely sad to see Marten leave. He was an exceptional CEO and not afraid to make the hard decisions, even against difficult odds. The good news is that there are many good managers within the organization. Karen Padir, who runs the middleware and identity engineering organization, is a very good manager. We got to know her quite a bit over the last year and I think she will be well received."

Urlocker has become VP of life cycle management at Sun and will try to implant MySQL-style practices for such Sun open source code offerings as the GlassFish Application Server and Java middleware. Both Urlocker and Padir will report to Anil Gadre, executive VP of application platform software.

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