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March 26, 2008

Sun completes MySQL acquisition

Sun Microsystems has completed its $1bn acquisition of open source database player MySQL, and simultaneously announced that the acquired firm's products are available immediately from Sun's 17,000-strong sales and services organization.

By Jason Stamper

Sun announced it would buy the firm on January 16, and the price tag instantly had eyebrows raised. Analysts estimated that MySQL did only $50m in sales last year, making the $1bn price tag seem high at first glance.

But what Sun gets is access to the MySQL customer list, and the potential to sell them other Sun products and services including its hardware, Solaris operating system (now open source), and its various middleware and application development tools.

Sun says there have been over 100 million downloads of the MySQL database, and that number is growing at the rate of 60,000 per day.

Since announcing our Sun-MySQL relationship, we’ve received an overwhelming response and embrace from customers and community members excited to see MySQL’s tremendous innovation and community backed by Sun’s financial muscle and global partners, said Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO, Sun Microsystems. For the first time ever, businesses across the world can standardize on a commercially supported, open source platform that meets their needs for scale, quality, and global service.

Sun introduced immediate availability of 7X24 year-round global database subscriptions and services for the entire MySQL product line, enabling IT organizations worldwide to, as it put it, take advantage of the leading open database for the Network Economy. It pointed to its support for Solaris, Linux and Windows as a reason customers will face less risk and have greater flexibility when opting for MySQL.

Sun is also offering MySQL Enterprise Unlimited, which helps customers deploy and manage an unlimited number of MySQL Enterprise Servers at a flat annual fee.

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There’s not much new here that wasn’t expected after the firm announced the acquisition, so let’s address the buy itself. The price tag was high, surely, but there’s a truism in this industry that a firm is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Besides, MySQL acts as the foundation for all sorts of enterprise development projects, and Sun now has a way into those projects that it lacked before.

It seems that more and more companies have realized that in the modern enterprise, a lot of projects – indeed a lot of the decision-making processes around IT investments – are still decided at the infrastructure layer. That’s why Oracle bought BEA for $8.5bn, that’s why SAP has poured money into its NetWeaver platform, it’s why Software AG bought webMethods, and Sun bought MySQL.

Just being bought by Sun has helped to boost MySQL’s credibility in the enterprise space. Sun says MySQL downloads have gone from 50,000 to 60,000 per day since it announced the acquisition.

Sun has already made a serious commitment to open source, too, open sourcing not only Java but Solaris, formerly surely its two most-prized, commercial software stacks. Alongside those two, it has numerous other open source projects on the go like the GlassFish application server and NetBeans open source IDE. So being bought by Sun shouldn’t scare off any MySQL customers, either.

Things at Sun are going in the right direction. In its latest quarter sales were up 1.4% to $3.6bn, and it just about doubled net income to $260m. Sure, plenty of analysts would like to see faster sales growth and even better profitability, but with its latest moves in open source and virtualization (including the recent acquisition of Innotek), it’s possible that is exactly what they will get in a year or so. The trouble is, better sales growth always seems to be just around the corner for Sun. Schwartz will be hoping that this time, he’s found the right itinerary.

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