Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Leaving EnterpriseDB

As some of you may know, I am leaving EnterpriseDB, the company that Denis Lussier and I founded 5 years ago. In this entry, I will offer some insight into the thought process behind this change, and an idea of future directions, both for the company and for me.

A couple of years ago, EnterpriseDB’s Board of Directors (myself included) made a judgment that the company had an immediate opportunity to scale into a sizable, industry-changing organization. To that end, we set out to attract a leader with the talent and track record to accelerate that transformation, and were very fortunate when Ed Boyajian accepted that challenge. As you may know, Ed was previously Red Hat’s general manager for North America. During his Red Hat tenure, Ed was a key member of the team that built the world’s largest and most profitable open source software business.

Ed and I have worked closely over the past year to build a more mature and scalable organization, both domestically and internationally markets. I am very pleased to report that EnterpriseDB is now widely recognized as one of the world's leading open source database companies, with nearly 2 million annual downloads, hundreds of paying customers, the confidence of leading investors and partners, and a first-rate executive team. With the transformational work largely complete, the time has come for me to move on, which Ed and I have been jointly planning quite some time.

What’s next for me? Simply put, I don’t know yet. I will spend the next couple of months speaking with and learning from as many people as I can, as I give thought to my next adventure. I would certainly welcome the opportunity to chat with any of you who are reading these words.

While I can’t say for sure what direction I’ll choose, it’s likely to involve an enterprise software business in one of the areas of my passion for the last 20 years, including:

    * Application development and infrastructure software
    * Open source, standards, and interoperability
    * Data publishing and delivery

Regardless of where I land, I will not be far from EnterpriseDB. I will remain involved with several strategic projects for the foreseeable future, and am deeply committed to the company’s success.

As I begin my exploration of potential next steps for me, I will offer occasional industry observations in this space. Stay tuned and stay in touch!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why would EDB license its technology to IBM?

Some people have asked why we would license our technology to a competitor. It's probably worth saying a few words here on this topic.

First, while there is some overlap between our target customers, IBM typically targets the very largest companies in the world, while EDB is focused primarily on the mid-market. Generally speaking, in other words, DB2 and Postgres Plus do not compete very much.

With the competition issue out of the way, licensing the technology to IBM (or potentially other vendors) makes sense for EDB for three main reasons:

1. It validates the strength and uniqueness of EDB’s compatibility solutions,
2. It demonstrates the demand for compatibility that other database vendors are experiencing, and
3. It establishes an ecosystem of invested partners who will work with EDB to make the technology even stronger over time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Significance of the IBM Licensing Partnership

At the highest level, the IBM license demonstrates the market demand for database compatibility and validates the strength of EDB’s solutions.

The news is also especially important in light of Oracle’s announced acquisition of Sun. With MySQL now under its control, Oracle has near-monopoly power in the database market, both in the proprietary and open source spaces. It is more important than ever that customers have mechanisms that allow them to choose freely the database solution that is best for them.

Compatibility = Choice

Database Compatibility = Customer Choice

It's rare that the database industry gets two major headlines in a week. Yesterday, of course, Oracle announced it was buying Sun (and therefore MySQL). But today's news is closer to home, and something I've been waiting to talk about for a long time...

Today, EDB and IBM disclosed that IBM has licensed EDB's compatibility technology and has embedded it in the latest release of DB2. This is the same technology EDB uses in Postgres Plus Advanced Server to deliver deep Oracle compatibility, which provides customers with the ability to freely choose their database.

And that's really what compatibility is all about: Customer Choice.

Customers who are currently locked-in to Oracle -- with proprietary syntax, stored procedures, packages, etc. -- are now free to continue to run their applications on Oracle...or they can use Postgres Plus for a fraction of the cost...or they can use DB2, which may bring other advantages, such as adherence to evolving corporate standards.

The point is that Compatibility provides Choice. It forces databases to compete on a level playing field, and allows customers to choose the most appropriate environment for themselves.

More on this announcement later...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DOA - Not

My friends tell me they're about to declare my blog dead and inactive. Guilty as charged. But not for long...

It's been a wild 9 months, and I'll be reporting in on some of my travels and activities. But first, let's spend some time in the present. It's not often that you get two major headlines in the database space in a single week...

You've already seen the Oracle-Buys-MySQL announcement. More to come tomorrow...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Freshmeat: PostgreSQL is More Popular than MySQL

Here's an interesting data point. As of today, freshmeat's top 10 open source projects are, in order:
1. MPlayer 100.00%
2. Linux 85.60%
3. cdrtools 78.03%
4. Apache 69.74%
5. gcc 69.27%
6. VLC media player 65.37%
7. PHP 63.03%
8. TightVNC 59.05%
9. PostgreSQL 53.68%
10. MySQL 53.62%

So, is Postgres now the world's most popular open source database, as well as the most advanced? ;-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A New Phase for EnterpriseDB

Today, EnterpriseDB announce the next phase of the company’s evolution.

Effective June 9, Ed Boyajian will step in as CEO of the company. I will take on a new role, running Business Development.

For those of you who don’t know Ed, his background is just ideal for EnterpriseDB. He’s spent the last 6 years at Red Hat — the largest and most profitable open source company in the world. In his various roles there, Ed was part of the leadership team that “broke the code” and figured out how to sell free software to the enterprise. And he did so in the infrastructure space (operating systems and middleware), and now moves to the top of that space (database). Simply put, Ed is a great fit.

My role will shift to focus on business development; strategic relationships that drive EnterpriseDB forward in the marketplace with partners and customers, and into new markets. This is a continuation of the work I started with our IBM relationship and investment, and I’m very excited about it.

I want to be clear that I have been a big supporter of — and active participant in — the search for a new CEO. Ed was our first choice out of hundreds of candidates, and I’m delighted that he is as excited about the opportunity as we are about him.

I’m very pleased that we’ve been so successful in becoming the world’s leading Postgres company with 300 customers, 100 employees, and consistent 250% year-over-year growth. It’s now time to bring in someone who can take us to the next level. I am confident that Ed is our man, and I’m very much looking forward to collaborating on a brilliant future.

Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about this transition. And stay in touch!

You can reach me with a comment on this blog, or privately at:
andy.astor (at) enterprisedb.com.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Open Source Database Survey

There's a survey asking interesting questions at http://tinyurl.com/6qvxfq

Have a look.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

No, Virginia, MySQL Has Not Gone Closed Source

There's a lot of talk this week, complaining that MySQL is moving away from its open source roots. While I make no bones about wanting to take every one of MySQL's paying customers (because after all, we have a better commercial offering ;-), I have to say in fairness that the talk is not really true or fair.

In actuality, as Dana Blankenhorn points out, MySQL started moving away from pure open source last year, when they created a split between the Community and Enterprise editions, and delivered closed-source software as pay-only services from their web site. This split recognized that they serve two different customer basis (as Zack Urlocker said just today): those who wish to pay, and those who wish not to pay. To my mind, there's nothing wrong with this hybrid approach! Indeed, it's the same approach that we've taken since our inception 3 years ago, and that we refined when we launched Postgres Plus last month.

I do believe it is fair, however, to ask for transparency and clear language. In Zack's blog, he wrote, "...just to be clear: (1) MySQL 6.0 backup capabilities are open source, (2) Add-on modules will be for paying customers." Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but I'd rather see #2 say "commercially licensed" or "closed source." That's what it is, and there's nothing wrong with it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Results from the Launch

Since my last post a couple of weeks ago, we’ve continued to see terrific results flow from the March 25 launch of Postgres Plus and the announcement of the IBM investment. This note is just a quick update to keep you informed about our progress.
  • The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an article on open source databases that featured us quite prominently. (Unfortunately, they still charge for access to their site. But if you don't have a subscription, shoot me an email, and we'll send you a PDF.) I'm very pleased to see the recognition of EnterpriseDB as the principal "other" open source database in the market. And it's clearly one of my happiest PR moments since Tom Friedman wrote about us in the New York Times.
  • On Thursday, Donald Feinberg of Gartner published a Research Note Titled “Open Source in Database Management Systems. One of the three “Key Findings” of the report is that “...by 2011, at least one open source DBMS, possibly MySQL from Sun Microsystems or Postgres Plus from EnterpriseDB, will become one of the more widely used DBMS engines in production.” Again...cool stuff.
  • The 451 Group, a leading analyst firm that I respect a great deal (and which focuses a lot on open source), also published a report recently on Open Source Databases, which prominently features EnterpriseDB as a leader in the market.
  • Our “Share of Voice” for January, February, and March was 65%, 73%, and 82%, respectively. This metric is calculated by dividing the number of articles in which we are mentioned by the total number of articles that should have mentioned us, in a perfect world. Trends certainly seem to be moving in the right direction.
  • Finally, our web site and download volumes since the launch have more than doubled. At the end of the day, this is the most important metric of all. Usage is everything.
Thanks to all our supporters, and thanks especially to our colleagues in the PostgreSQL community, which make all of this possible. It's a pleasure to work with one of the few truly independent open source communities in the world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

OSBC Keynote Notes

I'm sitting at the opening session of the Open Source Business Conference. A few of my favorite moments...updated in real time...

Matt Asay continues his open source evangelism with a term I haven't heard him use before (or at least don't remember). He describes a Market of Abundance - contrary to traditional markets (of scarcity), digitization of goods means that these goods are now infinitely available for virtually zero cost. Therefore, the value is no longer in these goods; it's in what you add to them. It's about sharing and adoption, and adding collaborative value over time.

Matt also cited a very cool statistic. About a year ago, he , Robin Vasan, and Larry Augustin did some "math," and determined that industry had invested about $2 billion in open source. Well, in 2008, open source company exits totaled about that same amount. So $2B in, $2B out..."now it gets interesting."

Jim Whitehurst, the new CEO of Red Hat, continued this theme. He explained that, since the "bits" (source code) are all open source, it "keeps us on our toes," ensuring the focus is on delighting customers. And the way to add value is way beyond "iteration of the bits." Some

Raven Zachary asked Jim Whitehurst about consolidation and the role of Red Hat moving forward. After a caveat that he's only been in the job 90 days, Jim stated that Red Hat will "narrow its [acquisition] aperture, to "enterprise infrastructure software," but will be aggressive on that front.

Announcing Postgres Plus

Today was a very busy day at EnterpriseDB. We announced progress on a variety of fronts, which I'll highlight in this post. I will post more detail about each topic in subsequent posts as the week goes on,  but here are the key announcements:

1. We announced the Postgres Plus product family, releasing 3 Generally Available products simultaneously. (For those of you not in the software products business...this is no small feat!)

2. We announced that IBM has joined our latest financing round, a Series C that also includes all of our existing investors, Fidelity, Charles River, and Valhalla

3.  We open sourced GridSQL, our parallel query engine that provides massive scalability of complex queries across unlimited servers, with no knowledge of the calling application. (Try explaining that one to your mother.)

4. We launched a new web site to reflect the product changes, and to make the EnterpriseDB community experience more enjoyable and easy-to-use.

5. We set the stage for a component-based architecture that you'll be hearing much more about in the coming weeks.

Details to follow!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

PostgreSQL: More Traffic than MySQL?

MarkMail, a mailing list archive service, found that Postgres gets far more traffic in its mailing lists than MySQL. Since, January 2000, MySQL has 340,000 messages with about 3000 new messages per month. Meanwhile, Postgres has 583,000 messages in that same period and 7,000 new messages each month! You can read all of the details and see the charts here.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

LinuxWorld Top Leader Recognition

I was very gratified yesterday to learn that LinuxWorld named me one of 2008's top leaders in the open source business. I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little proud (yes, I sent the piece to my mom). But truthfully, I am actually most pleased about the article because it recognizes the EnterpriseDB business model as a "bold step in an industry were the GPL reigns in popularity." It's nice to see the fulfillment of our vision: to support and help grow the one of the longest-lived and most dynamic open source communities via an economically feasible business model. Thanks, LinuxWorld. I'm honored to share the recognition with Denis Lussier (co-founder) and the rest of the EnterpriseDB team.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Apple and Microsoft Grumblings

I'm writing to complain. I don't do it often, but I've had two experiences in the past two weeks that have really pissed me off.

About a year ago, I made the switch from the PC to the Mac, and never looked back. What a difference! The integrated search capabilities alone make it worthwhile, never mind flawless sleep mode, a loosely-coupled application/OS architecture, and really cool design work in so many respects. Even Microsoft Office is pretty good on the Mac. So what's my beef? One each for Apple and Microsoft...

Apple: I decided recently to upgrade the RAM from 2GB to 3GB, the machine's max. I went to the Apple store and purchased the required 1x2GB chip...for $500. That seemed high, so I went online (to newegg.com). The same memory was $58. That's right...nearly an order of magnitude less expensive, and it works perfectly. I understand pricing decisions, and it's completely fair that Apple commands a price premium. But 10x?? That's just not right. Thankfully, I hadn't opened the Apple memory box, and was able to return it.

And now to Microsoft: I've been so pleased with Office 2004, that I actually pre-ordered Office 2008, which came out last week. What a disaster. It's bloated. It's slow. It corrupted by Office database (twice...at least it's consistent). It's new features are not compelling (although MyDay is kind of nice). Similar to the Apple story, though, this has a happy ending. I re-installed Office 2004, pointed to my old database, and I was back up and running on ol' reliable in less than 15 minutes.

To my friends at Apple and Microsoft...That's no way to treat your customers.

That's the end of my whine. I'll get back to more positive topics next time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MySQL's Heliocentric Universe

As you’ve no doubt heard, Sun announced today that it is buying MySQL – for about $1 billion! While it’s only been a few hours since the announcement, I thought I’d put down some initial thoughts.

Market Validation
First, this transaction clearly validates the strategic – and commercial – importance of open source databases (OSDBs) like MySQL and Postgres/EnterpriseDB. It also validates the claims we’ve seen recently from key analyst firms, who have observed a significant increase in production use of OSDBs during the past two years, and who have begun to guide enterprises toward using OSDBs for a variety of production applications. Indeed, Gartner issued a report on this topic just last week.

By all reports, the $1 billion purchase price is 10-to-20 times trailing annual revenues, and the acquisition is by far the biggest ever in the open source software space. If there was doubt left in anyone’s mind of the impact of open source in the market, or of the potential value of open source companies, this puts that question to rest.

MySQL is Not Postgres!
We’re very happy for our friends at MySQL, who produce a fine database for a different set of customers and markets than does EnterpriseDB. MySQL is very strong in the website and other architecturally-simple applications, while Postgres/EnterpriseDB was designed from the ground up for enterprise-class applications, including high-volume OLTP. Truth be told, we almost never compete with each other in customer deals. Sun recognized this difference in their conference calls today, re-affirming their commitment to Postgres for those customers who require it.

A Heliocentric Universe
In their public communications today, Sun emphasized that their business model is all about customer choice. Jonathan Schwartz noted that they distribute products from competing vendors. Therefore, he posited, MySQL simply fits in neatly with all the rest. While there’s some truth to this, the fact of the matter is that MySQL’s sphere of influence is now Sun-centered. The remaining platform vendors — including IBM, Red Hat, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and even HP — have to be looking at MySQL in a whole new light today...one that recognizes that the database is owned by a competitor. No matter how many ways I try to look at it, MySQL is now SunDB. And what becomes of MySQL’s partners, who will now be integrated into the Sun infrastructure? At a minimum, this will cause confusion and uncertainty in the short run.

Why Not an IPO?
MySQL announced months ago that they were planning to go public, rather than be acquired. Truthfully, I’ve never believed that would happen. Their business model (1 out of every 1,000 users pays, and only a small amount at that) has gotten them nicely to somewhere in the $50-75 million. But that’s with more than a million downloads a month. Without a biiiigggg parent company and its associated distribution channels, how much bigger can they grow, and how quickly? Could they meet the requirements Wall Street places on superstar companies? I’ve never believed it would happen. I think they did the right thing by selling.

How Does This Impact EnterpriseDB?
Very positively!!!
  • It is another huge validation for the open source database market, in which we operate
  • We are left as the leading independent OSDB, growing by more than 250% last year
  • We are friends – not competitors – of all the platform vendors, including Sun
  • A valuation benchmark has been set (although there are no certainties about the future)
  • Bloggers, analysts, and press are all over the story, and we’re included frequently
What do you think? I’d like to hear thoughts.

-- Andy

P.S. While Sun is clearly investing in the “M” in LAMP, I wonder how they feel about the “L”? ;-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Book Reports

Back from the promised vacation. I'm in the midst of putting together a significant update that looks back on EDB in 2007 and forward to 2008, so I'll leave that subject alone for the moment. I'll just say that Curacao remains a great place to vacation, that the Dolphin Academy rocks, and that I successfully read more non-work pages in the past week than I have in the past year. Brief book reports follow:

I'd highly recommend "Water for Elephants." It's a quick read, a great story, and a wonderful diversion for a couple of days. I'm a big fan of fiction taking place in earlier times, and this is the story of the US phenomenon of train-based circuses. Roustabouts, elephants, tigers, hobos, rubes, the works. This is one you'll read and pass along to a good friend.

I'm nearly done with "World Without End," Ken Follett's 1,000-page epic that takes place in the mid-1300's. Like all of Follett's work, it is rife with deviousness, violence, war, sex, death, love, betrayal...the works. It's a fast read, and very compelling. I must say, though, that I liked his first book in this genre, "Pillars of the Earth," much better. Perhaps it's just that it was my first experience bringing the middle ages to life, but this one seems a bit like more of the same to me.

Happy new year to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dolphins (redux) and Holiday Wishes

It's off to Dolphin-land again for the family. We'll be down in Curacao for a week, with lots of scuba, books, and dolphins. It's a much-needed vacation, and my plans are to be relatively unplugged the whole time. (Relatively...I just can't bring myself to truly commit to taking a break, can I?)

I've got two books coming with me on the trip. The first is Ken Follett's huge tome "World Without End." It's a follow-up to his "Pillars of the Earth," which I thoroughly enjoyed. The second book is "Water for Elephants," by Sara Gruen. I know very little about it, but my wife loved it. Not sure which will get picked up...

It's been a wild year at EnterpriseDB...explosive growth, amazing customers, terrific new team members, and great change. I'll be speaking more about the year in review shortly after my return. In the meantime, I wish everyone a holiday season filled with peace and joy, and I hope the new year brings great adventures to you and yours.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The OSA Report (including the Popularity of Postgres)

The Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) just published the results of the 5 customer forums they held in 2007. The report is a quick read (11 pages), and is quite thoughtful and balanced. I will highlight a couple of points I found particularly interesting, but I'd encourage you to read it for yourself.

First, a great insight from the report is the relative popularity of Postgres for serious applications. Customers in the forums were from "both public and private sectors, both large and small organizations, both business and technical managers, and both early adopters and mainstream users. When asked about their open source usage, "about 50% used open-source databases, equally divided between MySQL and Postgres." Equally divided...hmmm...

If measured by pure downloads, MySQL's claim of being the world's most popular database is certainly true. But most serious developers know that Postgres (particularly that slick distribution from EnterpriseDB ;-) is the world's most advanced open source database, and that it combines extraordinary capability with terrific ease of use.

Another great insight from the report is the question of why people gravitate to open source software. Cost Reduction is "by far" the number one reason, particularly because it allows you to pay later in the usage cycle, when the code's value is delivered, rather than paying up-front licensing. Just as important an insight is that the Ability to Customize code is not at all important; most people want their software "as is."

These two points precisely reflect our experience with our customers. They are looking for less expensive alternatives that are available for free until value is delivered. Furthermore, customers want to know that experts are building their software, and have little or no interest in modifying the database code themselves. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few and far between.

There's lots more meat in the report. Go read it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Responding to The Register

OK, folks, it's been a really long time since I blogged. Guilty as charged of procrastination beyond belief. But today's article in The Register means that I've got to get back to the keyboard. Here goes...

Let's start with a few objective facts about the state of EnterpriseDB:

1. We're in the final month of our best quarter ever
2. 2007 sales growth over 2006 will be measured in multiples, not percentage points
3. We have nearly 200 customers, compared with about 60 at the end of 2006
4. In just 7 quarters of sales, our repeat business rate is huge
5. Our average sales price is increasing consistently over time

Does this sound like a company in trouble? No, it doesn't seem like it to me, either. So, what's the story?

The story is really simple and really common. EnterpriseDB is a young company, and like every other young company I've ever been involved with, we are fine-tuning our business model. In our case, that meant recognizing that a large direct field sales force was overkill, and that most prospective customers prefer to work with us over the phone, anyway.

So, we had to say goodbye to a few great people, and we also asked a couple of underperforming individuals to leave. At the same time, we also brought on several new key individuals, and are actively hiring for many more (including -- guess where -- inside salespeople).

Like any business, we make plans based on educated guesses about what the market will want, and how we we can best deliver it. We adjust those plans according to actual market feedback. These adjustments include changes in products, service offerings, sales models, and every other aspect of business.

The problem is not that we've made a few changes. The problem would be if we failed to do so.