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 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 ( 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 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!