Monday, January 25, 2010

Oracle, MySQL, the EU and Wayne Gretzky

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be” -- Wayne Gretzky

Technically speaking the EU did a good job. They recognized that, in its current state, there is little market overlap between MySQL and Oracle products. Sure, there was some overlap and some Oracle customers would use the competitive threat of MySQL to extract lower pricing from Oracle. But looking at what the current installed bases are doing, they are not too competitive. And as the EU points out, Postgres and Ingres provide open source alternatives to Oracle’s high-end products.

Oracle, on the other hand did a great job. They saw where the puck was heading—namely that MySQL had their sights set on the Enterprise market—and Oracle intercepted the pass.

The most telling story was what happened at the MySQL partners meeting at the 2009 MySQL conference in April. Oracle had just announced that they were acquiring Sun/MySQL. The partner meeting was kicked off by a presentation on MySQL’s future where every other word was scalable or enterprise. They clearly had their sights set on the enterprise market. Obviously, this presentation was created before the acquisition announcement.

Then came the QA period. Of course, the first question was “What does this acquisition mean to MySQL?” The answer went on about how Oracle was a scalable enterprise database and MySQL is really focused on smaller web applications. It was a very telling 180-degree strategic pivot.

Was this a good thing, a bad thing…that question is now moot. It is what it is. The EU did a good job—based upon the current status—while Oracle did a great job of seeing the future direction.

Does Drizzle now skate to where the puck is going in the cloud? Does MariaDB make a run at the Enterprise by itself? Does MySQL drive forward into the enterprise market with Oracle’s support, or in spite of Oracle? Do Postgres and Ingres get a lift from this, as the only viable open source enterprise databases? Will we see the rise of other competitive threats in the enterprise database market? I’m happy to hear your comments, but ultimately time will tell.


  1. I think you mean, "Oracle had just announced that they were acquiring Sun".

  2. Hi Mike

    Actually, the EU did a good job understanding where the puck was already going. (Unfortunately, this information will now remain confidential, as the eventual decision is written differently.) But eventually the end result was decided by other factors.

    I believe the appropriate NHL metafor for the winning strategy is more in the direction of "Tie Domi" :-)

    (Which is not supposed to be a bitter comment, Finland often lost to Canada in such a way, it is just a testament to Canada being stronger than Finland in that area of the game.)