Sun, MySQL synergies stressed in merger

Acquisition called the largest open-source software deal ever

With Sun Microsystems' US$1 billion acquisition of open source database vendor MySQL announced, Sun gets ownership of a major player in the open-source software industry while MySQL gets the backing of a multibillion-dollar, established systems company.

Called the largest open-source software deal ever, the merger makes Sun the owner of a critical part of the popular LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Perl/Python/PHP) open-source software stack. Sun already has been offering up its own software to open source, even basing its development tools strategy on the open source NetBeans platform.

"MySQL is an important part of the LAMP stack, [and] has grown to be enterprise-ready technology used by large organizations, and Sun is now a major player in the LAMP stack," said Raven Zachary, analyst with The 451 Group. MySQL customers get the benefit of a larger support organization, Zachary said. Sun, meanwhile, will push MySQL as enterprise-ready technology and as an alternative to proprietary databases like Oracle, he said. "I think Sun has really been struggling in building a software revenue stream around its open-source projects, and I think for them to take on MySQL, now they have a very successful revenue stream around an open-source software [stack] that was lacking before," said Zachary.

The deal was applauded by open-source CRM vendor SugarCRM, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) tools vendor Zend Technologies, and SpringSource, makers of the open source Spring Framework for Java development.

"I think it's an incredibly smart move by Sun and Jonathan Schwartz," said SugarCRM CEO John Roberts. While Roberts said he had been looking forward to an IPO by MySQL, the deal nonetheless makes sense. Sun, Roberts said, gets a mission-critical database that is "probably the most widely used database on the planet today."

Zend and SpringSource had similar impressions.

"I think open source has gone mainstream," and Sun has put its stamp on it, said Zend CEO Harold Goldberg. "We think it's a great day for open source, and we think it's a great day for the LAMP stack."

"The acquisition of MySQL by Sun marks one of the most significant recognitions of the importance and power of open source as a disruptive force in technology," said SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson in his blog.

Sun heralded the deal as its entrance into the database market and will offer global support offerings for MySQL. "We're announcing we're entering the US$15 billion database business," said Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz on a conference call with MySQL and Sun executives. By Sun's acquisition, MySQL overcomes its biggest impediment: Ensuring peace of mind to a global company that wants to put MySQL into a mission-critical deployment, Schwartz said. "It's very clear to us that that is what our customers have come to expect from Sun," he said. "We believe there are synergies in putting the two companies together that will allow MySQL to grow more rapidly and allow Sun to grow more rapidly."

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