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2/9/2009
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MySQL's Urlocker Stays At Sun, Takes On Broader Role

Zack Urlocker, a key member of the MySQL brain trust, will oversee the portfolio of Java middleware that Sun offers as open source code, including GlassFish and Solaris.

Zack Urlocker, former VP of both engineering and marketing at MySQL AB and right-hand man to Marten Mickos, will remain at Sun Microsystems in the role of VP of life-cycle management across multiple product lines.

His continued responsibilities at Sun were confirmed by Sun officials after they were forced to announce the resignation of Mickos, who was previously senior VP of database software at Sun after it acquired MySQL AB last Feb. 26. Mickos announced to fellow former MySQL employees at Sun last week that he was leaving.

His departure followed by a few days the exit of Michael "Monty" Widenius, one of the original authors of MySQL. Widenius' exit came three months after David Axmark's, another MySQL author.

Urlocker's continued work at Sun means one key member of the brain trust is staying, but it remains unclear whether that will mean other MySQL developers and marketers would stay in place.

Urlocker still works with the MySQL team, but has broader responsibilities across many product lines. The Canadian-born Urlocker worked closely with Finnish-born Mickos to establish MySQL AB as a business. He personifies some of the business intelligence that made MySQL a success as an open source company. And he was unusual in that he wielded authority over both engineering and marketing at the time of the acquisition.

Urlocker's role at Sun will be to share how MySQL AB's "high volume/low touch marketing" can be applied to other Sun product areas, he said in his blog post of Dec. 30. Sun spokesmen confirmed Monday that those comments still applied. The spokesmen said neither Urlocker nor other Sun employees would comment on Mickos departure.

In his year-end blog, Urlocker said he would "still be working closely with my colleagues at MySQL, but now also helping with many other products in software and systems." That means his responsibilities will cover the portfolio of Java middleware that Sun offers as open source code, such as the GlassFish application server and Solaris operating system, but also non-open source products, including server hardware and, potentially, storage systems. Sun has been trying to adopt more of the MySQL marketing approach across its product portfolio. For an upcoming announcement on GlassFish, Sun's GlassFish chief architect Paul Hinz said, "The major direction of GlassFish is to align itself with MySQL-style" distribution and marketing.

Urlocker will report to Anil Gadre, executive VP of application platform software, which includes MySQL and Java middleware. Mickos' successor, Karen Tegan Padir, also reports to Gadre.

In a climate increasingly represented by open source companies like MySQL, to maintain its developer ecosystem and protect its apps business, Microsoft has to loosen its grip on the Windows source code and drive down costs -- effectively making its operating system open source.

But that's only the beginning: The company should restructure itself, pay more attention to cloud computing, and get out of search. An InformationWeek report, Overhauling Microsoft, may be downloaded by clicking here. (Registration required.)

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