With our current focus on the "12 Days of Scale Out" I thought I'd mention some observations from a recent visit to China. I was there mostly on vacation, but I was able to spend a couple of days on the front end in some meetings with customers and press in Beijing through our partner there, Great Open Source.
The highlight of my visit was meetings with Sina.com (the largest portal in China) and Baidu.com (the largest search engine company). Both are large scale users of MySQL with literally hundreds of MySQL servers at the core of their operations.
These companies have to deal with the same challenges as their US or European counterparts, but with some added complexity due to handling of chinese characters. While the MySQL documentation is available in Chinese, there's still a need for more technical training, consulting and local best practices. And I was thrilled that we had so many attendees from China at our users conference back in May. That's a long trip to make for a conference! Hopefully we can start to do more local activities through our partner to help expand the market in China.
This was my first trip to China and I was really struck by the enormity of the scale of things. China has one fourth of the world's population and already is the #1 market for cell phones and the #2 market for PCs, behind the US. There are about 144 million internet users in China and that number is growing rapidly. There are more than 20 cities with a population of 5 million and there are mega cities like Beijing with more than 15 million or Shanghai with more than 18 million.
The IT industry is growing rapidly as a result, and I was impressed to see so many young people working hard. Indeed, things at Baidu.com and Sina.com were not so different from the early stages of Google or Yahoo. And indeed, both companies appear to be beating their US counterparts in the local market, though revenues are still small by US standards. (And interesting to note that Google has now teamed up with Sina.com.)
There is also a huge talent pool of engineers in China. Beijing has a dozen universities and colleges including top-notch computer science programs. Xian, the location where the Terracotta warriers were discovered back in the 1970s is home to more than 40 universities and colleges. China graduates more students in computer science than any other country in the world. So if you want my advice, make sure your kids are learning Mandarin. It may come in handy...