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November 2005

MySQL UC Call for Papers Nov 7


We're coming onto the last call for papers at the 2006 MySQL Users Conference.  That's right, get your submissions in by November 7.  Since the conference team is normally swamped with papers that come in during the last 24 hours, you do get a bit of a competitive edge if you get your paper in early.  Also be sure to target your talk to the audience.  Pick the track that you want to focus on and make sure your presentation includes practical information that is helpful to MySQL users, not just theory.  Topics that show real world use, best practices and showcase unique capabilities of MySQL tend to be very popular.  Hands on information, technical details, performance tips, tuning & optimization, use of new features in 5.0 or MySQL Cluster are always welcome, as are meaty case studies. But leave behind the commercial pitches. 

The conference is held April 24-27 in Santa Clara, California and features pre-conference tutorials, hands-on workshops, certification programs, a conference expo and more.  It's the conference for MySQL users, DBAs and developers.

A Growing Headache for the Database Giants


Steve Hamm over at BusinessWeek has an interesting take on the launch of MySQL 5.0 and the impact that open source is causing to the large closed source database companies.  He cites Evans Data recent survey results that show open source database deployments up by 20% in the last six months and use of MySQL up by 25% during this time.  Given the size of the MySQL installed base (over 6 million active installations) this is very significant growth.  Forty-four percent of corporate developers surveyed indicate that they use MySQL.  That's something we're very proud of at MySQL, and Hamm also makes the point that it's a trend that could have serious implications for old school database vendors who make a lot of their revenue on licenses and maintenance fees.

Also, a good interview w/ Marten Mickos at Sys-Con on MySQL 5.0, the power of Community, competition in the database market and why we supported the SCO platfform. 

Zend PHP Conference Report


This past week Burlingame, California was host to the first Zend/PHP conference.  The keynotes included presentations by the founders of Zend (Andi, Zeev and Doron), as well as Marc Andreessen (Netscape wunderkind), Rod Smith (IBM's open source guru), Ken Jacobs (Oracle's Dr DBA) and Adam Bosworth (Google) among others.

Zend also announced their initiatives around a collaboration platform for PHP that involves many vendors including MySQL, Oracle, IBM, Actuate and SugarCRM as well as the PHP community at large to develop the Zend PHP framework as well as integration with Eclipse. 

Marc Andreessen's keynote was particularly interesting as he made the case that PHP is really the language going forward.  For those who missed the 1990's (or are still trying to forget it) this is an amazing endorsement both for PHP and for Zend.  Andreessen was a huge proponent of Java and he's come to the realization that PHP will likely dwarf Java in terms of overall programmer penetration.  There are perhaps 5 million Java programmers and PHP could easily exceed 20 million worldwide.  I believe that PHP is really the Visual Basic for the next generation of web developers.  It's easy to use, easy to get started and enables you to deliver great applications in less time.

PHP is used by major organizations like ADP, Disney, Lufthansa, Nasa, large scale web sites like eBay, Flickr, TheFaceBook, Yahoo, startup companies like ActiveGrid, SugarCRM and thousands of others. 

European of the year:!


It's been quite an honor that the campaign manager, Florian Müller, was nominated as one of the Europeans of the year by European Voice in their EV50 poll.  He's in good company along with Bob Geldof (Live8) and Bono (U2).  I always thought Florian had "rock star" status in the open source world, and now it's been confirmed!

Florian was the key guy to help fight the battle, getting the support of MySQL, Red Hat, the FFII and other groups to campaign against software patents in Europe and securing a defensive victory in the European Pariament

The voting is open until November November 11, 2005.  The only thing to keep in mind is that in order for your vote to count, you must vote in each of the ten categories.  (You can't just vote for Florian and then leave; this takes at least 2 minutes to complete.  And you must enter a valid email address and respond to a confirmation email.)  In order to help out, has put together a list of recommendations and explanations about who to vote for.  (You can vote for anyone you like, these are just suggestions for those not familiar with all of the nominees.)  You can view the information in a dozen different languages and the vote is open to everyone worldwide. 

Update: has also issued a new press release that shows the endorsement of Free and Open Source Software luminaries Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox, Rasmus Lerdorf and Monty Widenius in the EV50 poll. 

I hope everyone in the open source world will take a moment to make their voice heard.

Open Doors to Innovation


There's a good article in InformationWeek this week that picks up on the idea of how new companies are looking at open source.  It's not that proprietary technologies don't scale technically.  It's just that they don't scale economically.  The cost of using closed source software in a scale-out scenario with dozens or hundreds of servers is just too cost prohibitive.  Especially when you consider that the cost may be $15,000 or even $50,000 per CPU.  No wonder companies are going open source.  And this isn't just the Silicon Valley crowd.  It's mainstream companies in the media industry, travel, publishing etc.

OSBC director: Linux, open source profitable, stable


There's a good interview with OSBC Director and open oource maven Matt Asay at the site.  In it Asay explains how open source companies are starting to have serious impact.  He gives examples of the dramatic revenue growth that has occurred at Red Hat, MySQL and JBoss and how that's causing not only investors but also CIOs to take open source more seriously.

Read the full interview.  If you like Matt's analysis, then you should definitely read his blog and attend the upcoming OSBC conference in Boston, November 1-2.  He's put together an excellent program and it promises to be a "who's who" of open source companies, investors and users.

Web 2.0 and the Modern Enterprise


Last week I attended the Web 2.0 conference put on by O'Reilly and LiveMedia in San Francisco.  I must admit, it felt a bit like 1999 again.  I don't mean that in a bad way, but rather from the perspective that there is innovation and excitement once again.  Lets face it, there were a few pretty slow years in the IT industry when the bubble burst. When spending stalls and jobs get cut, no one wants to hear about anything new. 

The Web 2.0 conference played to a packed house of entrepreneurs, VCs, media gurus, programmers, linux heads, bloggers and others.  If there were a couple of interesting themes, that I observed it would be that AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) is the next hot development approach and Open Source (and the LAMP stack in particular) is the default platform for Web 2.0.  If you need a definition of Web 2.0, then check out Tim O'Reilly's posting "What is Web 2.0?" which is quite good even though he referred to it as wankery.  If you need a definition of "wankery" I really can't help you.

For those who haven't heard the term AJAX before it's really about delivering a rich client experience in a browser.  That's not exactly a brand new approach, but it has matured considerably in the last couple of years.  A good example of a rich client web-based application is Google's GMail or Google Maps.  The interesting thing is you can now build your own AJAX applications using tools like Morfik (a startup from New Zealand) or the OpenLaszlo platform. Actually AJAX based email was everywhere at this show.  Zimbra has an open source Exchange compatible server (now in beta) as well as an Ajax browser based client. (And it's also imap, pop3 and Outlook compatible.)  Laszlo is licensing applications including an email solution to ISPs and Morfik showed their own demo email application that is basically equivalent to GMail. 

I ran into at least half a dozen startup companies who are all building on open source using the LAMP stack and MySQL.  In fact all of today's hot companies are building on open source.  Whether it's Google, Yahoo, Technoratti, Feedster, theFaceBook, NeoPets, or dozens of others, open source has become the preferred way to build a modern enterprise architecture.  In the case of startups, it's clear that open source can make it much easier to keep the costs low, which is a good thing. 

But what does it say when companies like Yahoo, Google or even VC backed companies with millions in the bank chose to use open source?  A few years ago, you could argue that open source software wasn't as good as the "expensive stuff."  Today it's a moot point.  Take a look at Zimbra, SugarCRM, MySQL or JBoss and decide for yourself whether they stack up to the closed source proprietary solutions.  While open source doesn't have all of the feature bloat, I would argue that when it meets your needs it's better than the closed solutions:  More reliable, faster, easier to use.  Who wants to pay extra for a lot of features you may never use and complexity you don't want?  At the Web 2.0 conference it was clear that open source is an unstoppable force and it just keeps getting better. 

Check out the links below for more coverage and some of the interesting new companies that were launched at Web 2.0.  The USA Today story is good for a balanced (if skeptical) perspective.

Linux Outlook Research Brief


A few weeks back I mentioned the Linux Outlook Research Brief published by InformationWeek.  I had glanced through the report quickly with the idea of coming back to it in more detail.  Now that I have read it in more detail, I really encourage people to take a look at this report.  It's from earlier in 2005, but it's free, so what the heck!  The information is excellent for anyone who wants to know how and why Linux is being deployed in corporate environments, or anyone who is trying to understand the broader trend of open source adoption.  A couple of interesting points:

"Red Hat is the most widely adopted Linux variant .  Nearly 90% of sites surveyed report its use.  SuSE Linux is also popular but it is a distant second at 46% of sites.  Debian Linux is the next closest rival -- at a quarter of sites.  No other variant earns substantial market share among the sites we surveyed."

"Two-thirds of the 439 business technology professionals we surveyed in January 2005 contend that open source spurs more opportunities for technical innovation.  Half (47%) say it encourages business innovation."

"The top 3 areas where organizations currently deploy Linux or plan to deploy it in the next 12 months are: Web / Intranet servers; Application Development; Database."

"The top 4 reasons that have helped accelerate Linux adoption are: Low cost / no licensing fees; Reliability; Performance; Windows security issues."

"Companies expect Linux will reduce their dependence on Windows products.  Linux is expected to replace Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers at nearly half of the sites surveyed.  Three of five sites expect to use Linux on servers instead of Windows NT or Windows 2000."

"Nearly 90% of companies surveyed anticipate a jump in server licenses for Linux.  No other product comes close to these expectations --not Windows, Macintosh or Unix."

The full report is 10 pages and available in PDF below.

Hybrid Open Source Business Models


I was at the Web 2.0 conference a few days ago and spoke to Dan Farber of ZDNet, whom I run into routinely at open source conferences.  Dan mentioned that he thought a lot of the companies that are promoting open source really have more of a hybrid model.  For example companies like SugarCRM, JasperSoft, Al Fresco, Pentaho all have a very capable open source offering as well as additional commercial offerings which are closed source.  The open source products are hugely popular and fully functional.  There's no crippleware or limited demo; it's what-you-see-is-what-you-get fully open source software under an OSI compliant license.  And all of these companies have significant communities and a growing business that enables them to continue to invest in open source. So the products, both open source and commercial, continue to get better and better with each release.

In my view there's nothing wrong with the hybrid model as long as people are clear about what is open source and what is not.  At MySQL we have a model that all our software is open source (under the GPL).  In fact we've even open sourced software that was previously closed, such as the MySQL Cluster technology that was originally a closed source high performance telcom database.  We have a business model where we offer MySQL Network, a subscription service that adds value on top of our Community Edition with certified software, support services, a knowledge base, indemnification and software advisors.  When we launched MySQL Network we were very clear to everyone that our goal was to add value and not take anything away from the community.  That's a good approach and it works for us.  But there's more than one way to skin a cat, and other companies may choose a very different model.  In my view it doesn't make them any less open source than MySQL, Apache, Red Hat or JBoss et al.  If you like their software, use it.  If you don't, add to it or write your own.  There's no lock-in and you can always stay open source. If you want the convenience of additional features or services, then you can buy those. 

SugarCRM has a bunch of very smart guys who are totally committed to open source.  They were the first application company to dive into the open source pool and prove that open source can continue to move up the stack.  They happen to be down the street from us in Cupertino and users of MySQL so we compare notes on occasion about business, technology, SQL tuning tips and what not.  They have a free open source version of SugarCRM published under a Mozilla license and they have a Pro Edition that has some additional group capabilities that are not open source. (You can actually get the source code, but its not published under an OSI license.) But there's no hidden agenda or surprises and you're free to use the open source offering forever, to add to it, and you never need to buy anything from SugarCRM if you don't want to.  Dan Farber in his blog talks to John Roberts, SugarCRM CEO, about their model and John makes a pretty good case for why they chose it. 

SugarCRM is able to get the best of both worlds by building on open source and they commit over half of their resources (well over half for many releases) to working on the open source product.  They also have a thriving community that helps create add-ons, new features, translations and more.  All of that code stays open source.

What do you think?  Is there room for diversity of business models in the open source world?

Oracle's Open Source Database Endorsement


Oracle's acquisition of InnoBase, the guys who developed the InnoDB storage engine, is interesting because it shows how significant open source database technology has become in the industry.  Oracle, along with IBM, helped legitimize Linux in the enterprise, and are now endorsing open source database technology.  Previously Oracle has said "Open source is great... for your operating system, but not your database."  Last year I predicted that sooner or later all of the database companies would go open source.  Since then we saw IBM open source Cloudscape as Apache Derby.  Then CA open sourced Ingres.  Now finally Oracle is getting into open source databases through the back door.  At any rate, I think open source and closed source technology are going to co-exist for many years to come and this announcement will facilitate the adoption of open source in the enterprise.

While the announcement could create a bit of confusion in the short term, it also clearly demonstrates the strength of the GPL license.  MySQL and the open source community and its users are free to continue to use, deploy, modify and enhance InnoDB regardless of who owns it.  That's the beauty of GPL.  It gives users the freedom from lock-in.  And of course, InnoDB is just one of many pluggable storage engines for MySQL.  Many of our users have written their own storage engines, and we've added two new ones into MySQL 5.0.  I expect that more people will begin exploring the InnoDB code and writing their own custom storage engines.  After all, InnoBase is just 3 guys, and its not too hard to write a storage engine.  That's a beautiful thing! 

BTW, the photo above, is me with Oracle VP Ken Jacobs from the MySQL User's Conference back in April.  So we'll no doubt continue to work with InnoBase guys (and also with Oracle) as we have with many other software companies in the valley and around the world.