Oracle Buys Sun: What About MySQL?

Posted in: MySQL, Technical Track

If you review the recent years of Oracle’s history, you’ll see that its purchase of Sun makes perfect sense. Oracle has tried to get in the OS business (Oracle Ubreakable Linux), the hardware business with their different partnerships (e.g.: Hewlett Packard Partner Relationship), and even into the MySQL business back when they bought InnoBase (Oracle and Innobase).

MySQL was in many ways a leader for the Open Source industry, both in the way the way it marketed OSS and in the way MySQL the company was built. It’s the latter aspect that worries me. MySQL was a world pioneer in having a global workforce and this shaped both its culture and products.

When I joined MySQL in 2001, 90% of the company was distributed outside their native Swedish offices. (When Sun bought it, it was down to 80% outside the Cupertino headquarters, which I’m sure is still more than any large or middle-size corporation can claim.) This meant that they hired the best talent they could find wherever they found it, and that they could follow the talent wherever it went. During my years at MySQL, many people moved around from country to country without affecting their jobs. This diversity and flexibility shaped everything the company did, and indeed, the different backgrounds of those involved greatly influenced the characteristics of MySQL AB’s products and services themselves.

Sun was already deep into distributing its workforce when they acquired MySQL, so of all the big corporations, it was probably the one that best fit MySQL’s culture. Oracle, however, is a very different story, and I’m not sure how the distributed workforce that the Sun and MySQL employees are used to, will fit into the new organization. This change will affect MySQL’s future—I’m not sure how, but it will be very different from the MySQL we know.

(On a side note, although I don’t think Oracle is buying Sun because of MySQL, it looks like the Twitter community thinks so: both #oracle and #mysql are on the top 10 topics right now. Check both Twitter feeds, if nothing else, they’re fun.)



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About the Author

I have been working with databases for the last 20 years. Prior to Pythian worked for MySQL for 6 years.

5 Comments. Leave new

Matthew Montgomery
April 20, 2009 3:39 pm

Gerry, I don’t think moving into Oracle will affect our work-from-home status. I have known Oracle employees who enjoyed these same benefits.


Hi Matt, more than the “work from home” perk, which many companies currently offer, I am more concerned about the “hire you wherever you are in the world” as opposed “let’s see if we can get you to move to the US/(some other country of choice)”. Remember the “work from anywhere” T-shirts recruiting campaign? The loss of that diversity and the freedom to speak your mind is that I think will be gradually lost, based on pure opinion of course.
If you (or anybody) has facts to prove me wrong I’d love to know.

Oracle, Sun, MySQL: A Grand Conspiracy? | Pythian Group Blog
April 20, 2009 6:03 pm

[…] Update from April 20, 2009: Oracle buys Sun and Oracle buys Sun: what does this mean for MySQL. […]

Oracle compra Sun: quale destino per MySQL? | PettiNix
April 21, 2009 6:59 am

[…] Gerry Narvaja nel suo blog discute sul futuro di MySQL focalizzandosi sul modello comunitario e distribuito dell’azienda, contrapponendo i modi di agire di MySQL, Sun e Oracle ed esplicando anche il tutto in termini di “cultura”. Narvaja, sviluppatore in MySQL dal 2001, non sa dire quale sarà il futuro di MySQL, ma sa che sicuramente vedremo MySQL in una maniera diversa da quella a cui siamo abituati. […]


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