Yesterday, I wrote about some examples of disruption. When an industry gets disrupted, there's usually a consistent pattern that emerges:
- A new entrant joins the market
- Their offering is perceived as limited and technically inferior
- The new entrant starts to gain a toehold in a few niches
- The incumbent waits and watches
- The entrant becomes "good enough"
- The niche market starts to boom
- The incumbent responds by trying to cram disruption
- The new model wins
I think the same pattern that happened with PCs disrupting minicomputers and Salesforce.com disrupting Siebel is now happening with open source software including Linux, the LAMP stack and MySQL. Many corporate IT managers considered Linux to be woefully inadequate in its early days and for the most part, they were right. But it was good enough for quick and dirty applications and for provisioning non-critical systems like file & print servers and web servers. As the web started to grow in importance, those niche applications became more prevalent and Linux continued to get better. Now you find Linux in pretty much every corporate data center in the world.
We see the same thing happening with MySQL. It gets deployed on a lot of niche applications, like web sites, ecommerce, data warehousing, reporting, custom applications and telecommunications infrastructure. And those niches are growing faster than the rest of the database industry.
Typically, MySQL does not replace the existing legacy databases in organizations. In fact, many of our customers are also users of Oracle, SQL Server and DB2. But they use them in different areas. As Charles Phillips from Oracle said a while back: Oracle and MySQL are both in the transportation business. But Oracle is a 747 and MySQL is a Toyota. Unless you're very rich, a 747 is not a great commuter vehicle. But admittedly, I would not want to drive cross-country for a meeting in New York. So in most companies, there is room for both solutions.
In the past year, we've seen some changes in the industry that seem to be in direct response to the ongoing disruption from open source.
- Sun open sources solaris
- Oracle acquires two open source companies
- Red Hat acquires JBoss
- Oracle forks Red Hat Linux
- Microsoft works with Zend to improve PHP performance
- Microsoft teams up with Novell on Linux
A year ago, these moves would have been unthinkable. But now I think they are helping to validate open source and demonstrate that open source is getting on the radar of CIOs. Microsoft tried ignoring open source and then they spread a lot of FUD about it. Now they seem to be waking up to the fact that customers want them to work with open source. Will these be lasting moves? It's hard to say. But its a clear sign that open source is not going to disappear.
To me the really interesting thing about open source software is that it can challenge the existing perpetual software license model. Today, companies spend millions of dollars for enterprise software. They pay all the money up front, and then they commit to spend 18-22% in maintenance every year they use it. Not surprisingly, most enterprise software ends up bloated with new features year after year, most of which are never used. I've seen dozens of IT projects fail after spending millions of dollars on overly-complex enterprise software. And lets face it, few enterprise software vendors are loved by their customers. So how do we fix this?
At MySQL, we have long focused on using disruption as a way to make our customers' lives easier. The first stage focused on making developers' lives easier with a no-nonsense database that was easy to use, reliable and fast. The second stage was the introduction of MySQL Enterprise and the Monitoring & Advisory service that makes the DBA's life easier. And now the third stage is to make the IT Buyer's life easier. We are doing that by announcing today something we call MySQL Enterprise Unlimited.
For $40K (the price of a single CPU of Oracle) you can get an enterprise wide use of MySQL Enterprise, with production 24x7 support and unlimited use of the MySQL Network Monitoring & Advisory Service for a year. For customers that are used to spending $1 million or more on closed source licenses, this is a heckuva good deal.
Is this disruptive? Post your comments below and let me know what you think. Or send email to disruption (at) mysql.com and let me know what you think we should do to improve the enterprise software experience.