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Why Telcos Are Going Open Source


While I'm doing most of my blogging these days over at InfoWorld, once in a while I'll post something over here that is more about MySQL.  Some folks likely saw our announcement with Virgin Mobile selecting MySQL Enterprise.  This is one in a long series of wins in the telecommunications industry in the last year.  It's been a rapidly growing part of our business and one that I'm particularly proud of.   

The mobile communications industry is going through a lot of changes --maybe even as many as the software industry.  It's being disrupted by digital technologies: VOIP, multi-media messaging, and more sophisticated smartphones that are essentially replacing PCs for many users.  (Some days it feels I do as much email on my Treo as on my PC.) 

So its interesting to see some of the industry disruptors, like Virgin Mobile, use open source as part of their business strategy.  In this case, Virgin Mobile is offering unlimited SMS messaging in order to expand their market.  If you're going to expand your market and your infrastructure, open source is really the only option.  Otherwise your infrastructure costs prevent you from doing what you need to do in order to be competetitive. Who wants to pay a "success penalty" where your infrastructure costs go up 50k in license fees per CPU?  It's not really a viable option.  And having facilities like MySQL Enterprise Monitor help ensure you've got 24x7 availability and are alerted to problems before they impact your systems.

PS. Yes, the photo above was me when I still looked respectable.  At our user conference they wanted to get a picture of me that was representative and I figured talking on my cell and drinking coffee was a pretty good snapshot.   


There's something here which has been overlooked -- apparently Virgin, and probably many other carriers as well, archive SMS messages, possibly indefinitely. 500 gigs of data is about 3,355,443,200 SMS messages (if each used the full possible size) This doesn't take into account the size of any other columns of data (like ID number, destination, etc)but with 3 million subscribers, that's about 1118 messages each, or 3 messages per day, per user. Granted many users never send any messages, I'd say Virgin is keeping at least a year worth of SMS archived. They don't mention this in their privacy policy. Do you think other carriers do this?

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