Seasons Greetings from 451 Group & CAOS

Seasons Greetings from The 451 Group and the Commercial Adoption of Open Source (CAOS) team. As the year draws to a close and we prepare to start a New Year, we wanted to highlight some of our recent work and the best of 2009.

For 451 Group subscribers, we encourage you to check out our 2009 review and 2010 preview for open source software in the enterprise. Additional 451 Group reviews and previews are also available for subscribers.

We would also highlight our latest CAOS special report: Climate Change – User Perspectives on the Impact of Economic Conditions on Open Source Adoption. The report considers our survey of open source software customers and end users and indicates cost savings, as well as flexibility, continue to drive open source in the enterprise. Commercial open source is, meanwhile, meeting cost-savings expectations for nearly all of its users, according to our survey.

Subscribers and non-subscribers should also check out the most popular CAOS Theory blog posts of 2009, and it may also be a good time to catch up on CAOS Theory podcasts.

We look forward to more open source and more CAOS in the New Year and wish everyone a safe and Happy Holidays!

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.23

Red Hat’s Q3. Google’s definition of open. Copyright assignment. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Red Hat reported third quarter net income of $16.4m on revenue up 18% at $194m

# Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s senior vice president, product management, presented Google’s definition of “open”.

# Michael Meeks’ published his thoughts on copyright assignment.

# The VAR Guy reported that Larry Augustin intends to double SugarCRM’s revenue in 2010.

# The OLPC project published details of its product roadmap to 2012.

# The Guardian reported that the BBC’s digital rights plans will wreak havoc on open source software.

# reported that Sun’s workforce reductions will hit its open source efforts.

# The VAR Guy took a closer look at Tech Data’s open source strategy.

# The Google-JSMin storm in a licensing teacup which will lead to JSMin’s removal from Etherpad.

# The Icinga team released the 1.0 version of the Icinga core Nagios fork.

# InformationWeek published a Q&A with the director of intellectual property strategy for the Linux Foundation.

# TechRepublic published 10 questions to ask when selecting open source products for your enterprise.

# Mark Fidelman published a list of open source companies that will rule the post-ERP world.

Google, Gartner pick open, closed winners

As the year draws to a close, we sure are getting some pretty sweeping assessments of open source, open standards and what openness means in today’s enterprise IT market. Google kicked things of with a thoughtful discussion of the meaning of open in today’s enterprise IT, but it included a somewhat misplaced declaration that ‘open systems win.’

We also had a thoughtful response from Gartner’s Brian Prentice, who seems to recognize the need for balance of open and closed, though isn’t it going too far to declare conversely to Google that ‘closed systems still win?’ While we’ve already gone over some discussion of whether open source has won and what that even means, I believe it is truly folly to try and pick a winner when looking at open and closed technologies. In reality, neither open source nor closed code would be what it is today without the other in enterprise IT.

One example: recent pressure on Google to open its acquired EtherPad word processor technology. I believe this situation highlights the inherent pressure to be open in today’s industry. With the advent, growth and evolution of commercial open source, customers, users, communities, developers and partners have all come to expect some degree of openness from their vendors. Similarly, open source brings with it cost savings expectations, and this has forced pricing and services adjustments for all software, whether open source or closed, open standards-based or not. In addition, we are also seeing that openness is not necessarily reliant on open source, as we recently covered.

We’ve also seen it work the other way. Proprietary vendors are increasingly adept at emulating open source, with companies such as SolarWinds leveraging true communities of developers, users and others, and forcing response from open source players. How vendors — whether it’s Google or Microsoft or Red Hat or Oracle or others — navigate and respond to these expectations and pressures is how they will be judged by customers and communities.

So while open systems may not win out every time, that doesn’t mean that closed systems should be crowned champion. This is the kind of antiquated executive thinking we still see in the industry today, albeit more seldom, thank goodness. The biggest opportunities and successes lie in balancing open source, open standards and open technology with the more traditional, closed and proprietary technology approach. To try and pick one side and rely on its success alone is a losing bet.

We were promised jetpacks: four quick predictions about open source in 2020

We recently published (451 clients only) our predictions for open source in 2010. As a child of the 1970s it was a little disappointing to be making predictions about the year 2010 that did not involve living on the moon, driving hovercars, and flying around using jetpacks.

It’s always more fun to look a bit further ahead when making predictions, which got me thinking about the state of open source ten years from now. Here’s four quick predictions about the state of open source in 2020:

  • By 2020 open source will have been completely assimilated in to the fabric of software development and licensing practices.
  • By 2020 open source will continue to be used for differentiating features, but the idea of open source itself as a differentiator will be long-gone.
  • By 2020 the idea of software vendors using proprietary development methods for non-differentiating software will be considered ludicrous.
  • By 2020 the idea of software users paying for proprietary software for non-differentiating technology will be a sackable offence.

Don’t write in – it’s just for fun.

I stole the phrase We Were Promised Jetpacks ifrom a band of the same name. They’re pretty good. Details here.

CAOS Theory’s most popular posts of 2009

Here are CAOS Theory’s top 20 posts of 2009, in terms of page views:

  • Looking for Linux, but sold out
  • January – Jay’s search for a Linux netbook – but was it a sign of their popularity or the lack of support from hardware vendors?

  • Marten Mickos is leaving Sun amid reorg
  • February – Breaking news on CAOS Theory, thanks to the fact that the news hit email boxes while those of us in the UK were awake. The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

  • None leading Linux kernel development
  • September – The latest Linux kernel development statistics indicate that there is still is a significant role for individual developers working outside their corporate affiliations.

  • TomTom Linux impact light hit so far
  • March – Jay assesses the impact on device manufacturers and the Linux-centered software providers of Microsoft’s patent infringement suit against TomTom.

  • Define “open source vendor”
  • February – This one would run and run. Tarus Balog opened the floodgates by question our use of the term “open source vendor”.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.12.18

Topics for this podcast:

*2009 review and 2010 preview
*New CAOS survey and report – Climate Change
*Ups and downs in new round of GPL lawsuits
*Oracle-Sun-MySQL saga continues

iTunes or direct download (30:00, 6.9 MB)

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.18

Shuttleworth steps down as Canonical CEO. Open source at SAP. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Mark Shuttleworth explained why he is stepping down as CEO of Canonical.

# Groklaw published The EU and Microsoft Settle Browser Issue; Interoperability with FOSS Still a Problem.

# Erwin Tenhumberg published an overview of open source at SAP in 2009.

# OpenLogic launched an Open Source Fulfillment Center to help companies ensure compliance with open source licenses.

# Ingres lost a claim for $60m made against its former owner CA, is required to provide products and support to CA.

# Krishnan Subramanian dug a bit deeper into open source as an end game for SaaS.

# Serdar Yegulalp noted that open source, minus people, equals zero.

# Stormy Peters pointed out that, open source or not, hosted software is very hard for end users to use without hosting.

# Open-Xchange added 7 million collaboration software end users in 2009, an increase of 80%.

# Continuent updated its open source replication For MySQL And PostgreSQL.

# Rackspace Cloud added FathomDB, MySQL Database-as-a-Service, to its Cloud Tools ecosystem.

# Untangle updated its open source Web filtering software to version 7.1.

# OpenNebula released version 1.4 of the OpenNebula Virtual Infrastructure Manager.

# WS02 released a portal server, WSO2 Gadget Server and also Business Activity Monitor.

# Alfresco and RightScale partner to enhance content management in the cloud.

# Matt Asay published a Q&A with Eucalyptus CTO Rich Wolski.

# JavaWorld published The Problem of the Open Source Commons: Harsh Economic Realities of Open Source Software.

# Bruce Perens’ statement on Busybox lawsuits.

# openQRM team lead Matt Rechenburg formed openQRM Enterprise GmbH.

# MindTouch and SnapLogic unveiled a jointly developed application integration offering.

# Black Duck announced its Enterprise Code Search Initiative, building on its acquisition of

New GPL suits and an open source imbalance

A new round of GPL-based BusyBox suits has been filed, targeting big names in electronics and IT. We’ve long covered these series of GPL-based suits and settlements, but this latest round comes at an interesting time for open source software and its licensing.

First, we have the backdrop of the Oracle-Sun-MySQL acquisition, with opponents arguing to the world and the European Commission, which is reviewing the proposed merger before approving it, in part that the GPL is, ironically, granting too much power to its user, in this case Oracle. I’ve been quoted in the press and honestly agree with Eben Moglen that we the industry, as well as oversight organizations, should trust in the GPL and open source software. It seems to have worked sufficiently to encourage, rather than discourage, competition in the past, so it is logical to assume this will continue, particularly given the commitments and scrutiny thus far. I would also point out that Oracle is going much further in outlining its plans and commitment to MySQL than Sun Microsystems ever had to when it acquired the open source database company and code.

Back to the GPL suits, these represent the ongoing effort of the SFLC to highlight both the workings and legitimacy of open source software licenses. Given the settlements so far and the relatively reasonable tone and approach of the SFLC, I would say these efforts are effectively raising awareness. Furthermore, given incidents such as Microsoft’s recent GPL gaffe, it seems clear that open source license violations are likely widespread, whether they are intentional or not.

Our recent survey of open source software customers and users also reinforces a lack of awareness, given that more than 57% of respondents track open source in development projects, but fewer than 32% have guidelines or policies for contributing to open source. Our survey indicates that while cost is important and serves as a primary driver of open source adoption and open source is delivering cost savings more than 87% of the time, far fewer open source users are truly focused on giving back. Nevertheless, the 31.8% of users that did have guidelines or policy for contributing to open source amounts to nearly one-third of our 1,700 respondents, and this could easily be viewed as a glass half-full scenario for open source supporters.

The GPL BusyBox suits, however, have also served to create some skepticism and scorn for those who are bringing suit. Part of this is based on the idea that backers of openness and transparency aren’t entirely comfortable with the unspecified monetary payments included in previous settlements. Now even some BusyBox developers are questioning the moves.

This again highlights the difficult balance in free and open source software between the philosophy and business aspects of open source, both of which can be integral and symbiotic to the other, but both of which remain a dichotomy as well.

Life after death or living dead? Open source is no guarantee

There was much rejoicing recently as Google announced a change of heart and decided to release the source code to EtherPad, which it had previously acquired along with AppJet and had planned to shut down.

Krishnan Subramanian at Cloud Ave was certainly happy as it supported his theory that SaaS vendors should offer their software under an open source license or at least open source their app before they shut down.

I’m not going to argue with Krishnan’s first point – in fact I agree that there is a lot of value in SaaS vendors reducing risk and encouraging adoption by making an open source version of their software available. However I am less convinced by the latter argument. There is a fine line between life after death and the living dead and the release of code under an open source license is no guarantee of re-birth.

This week saw the release of the Storytlr lifestreaming platform under an open source license after its creators decided to shut down the service.

In covering the new Krishnan noted a number of other projects that have also survived their corporate owner, such as Zoto, Mindquarry, and Jaiku. I previously noted, however, that Mindquarry is a prime example of a project that has failed to flourish.

When Mindquarry, shut down the firm’s founders were all hired by Day Software, and stated that as long as there was an active community, they intended to continue their commitment to the software. SourceForge statistics for the project indicate that it has been inactive since the day it was registered.

Similarly, the Ringside Social Application Server software may have outlived its corporate sponsor, which closed its doors in October 2008, but it has not been updated since July 2008, according to SourceForge statistics.

Of the other examples, the Zoto project is similarly moribund, while I would also mention that the source code project for the URL shortening project has been inactive since mid-October having been released amid much fanfare a few months earlier.

Jaiku, the micro-blogging platform, seems to be fairing much better and has a large group of active owners and committers.

This raises an obvious point, but one that is worth making: open source projects cannot survive without committed developers. We previously noted that openQRM continues to be an active project despite the closure of Qlusters in July 2008 and that the main difference between openQRM appeared to be a committed project leader and an active community of developers.

Kris Buytaert reported yesterday that not only is the openQRM project thriving but Matt Rechenburg, the openQRM team lead, has founded openQRM Enterprise GmbH, together with some core members of the openQRM Team to provide world-wide professional services and long-term support for openQRM.

Which goes to show that with open source there is life after death – if there is a committed group of developers prepared to put in the effort to keep the project alive. For many open source projects that’s a pretty big “if”.

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.15

Recent non-Oracle/EC/MySQL news.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Novell reshuffled its Linux business into Security, Management and Operating Platforms business unit.

# HP partnered with Red Hat, Novell and Microsoft to target Sun migrations.

# The US DoJ asked for an extension to the antitrust judgment against Microsoft by at least 18 months.

# MuleSoft announced the availability of its Tcat Server 6 R2.

# Best Buy, Samsung, and JVC were among the 14 companies named in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the SFLC.

# SteelEye formed an alliance with EnterpriseDB for business continuity, data replication.

# Mark Radcliffe reported on Artifex v Palm.

# Russell Nelson discussed open source and trademark usage.

# A GNOME developer reportedly proposed a vote on splitting from GNU.

Two webinars this week

I’m taking part in two webinar’s this week that will likely be of interest to CAOS readers. On WednesdayI’m contributing to a webinar with EnterpriseDB on the subject of open source database adoption in the enterprise, while on Thursday I’ll be presenting a 451 Group webinar on data warehousing.

During the EnterpriseDB webinar we will provide recommendations for how organizations can effectively leverage open source software. Attendees will learn about open source software trends for 2010, top considerations when using open source databases, and best practices for successful deployments of open source software.

I’ll be providing some data points from our recent surveys on database adoption and open source adoption while EnterpriseDB’s Larry Alston will also showcase successful enterprise deployments of Postgres Plus.

The open source database webinar is Wednesday, December 16, at 1 pm ET. To register, visit this link.

The data warehousing webinar follows the recent publication of our special report, Warehouse Optimization – Ten considerations for choosing/building a data warehouse.

The report provides an overview of the data-warehousing vendor landscape, as tracked by The 451 Group, and examines the business and technology trends driving this market. It identifies 10 key technology trends in data warehousing and assesses how they can be used to choose the technologies and vendors that are best suited to a would-be customer and its specific application.

During the webinar I will present some details of those ten key trends – including the role of open source software – and how we see consensus forming around some technologies that have previous divided the industry, enabling the conversation to move on to business-oriented issues.

The data warehousing webinar is Thursday, December 17th, at 1 pm ET. To register, and download an executive summary of the report, visit this link.

EC investigation of Oracle-Sun enters the endgame

Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems looks set for approval by the European Commission after the competition commission welcomed commitments from Oracle related to the future development and licensing of the open source MySQL database.

The EC has until January 27, 2010, to reach a final decision however it appears that significant progress has been made following hearings in Brussels last week where Oracle made its case for approving the acquisition and opponents including SAP, Microsoft and Monty Program AB argued against the proposed acquisition.

Oracle has published a list of ten commitments that it is prepared to make to assuage the EC’s concerns over the future of MySQL, which were quickly and enthusiastically welcomed by the European Commission.

Oracle’s commitments

Oracle’s list of ten commitments related to the future licensing and commercial arrangements for MySQL, with a specific focus on the developers of storage engines that plug in to the core MySQL database enabling it to be used for specific application purposes, such as data warehousing, transactional applications, and clustered environments. Oracle stated that the commitments would continue for five years after the completion of the acquisition.

Oracle committed to the ongoing availability of storage engine application programming interfaces (APIs) as well as a promise to change Sun’s current copyright policy to ensure that storage engine providers would not require a commercial license to implement the APIs and would not be required to release their storage engines under the GNU General Public License. Oracle also promised that storage engine providers that currently have an OEM license with Sun to use MySQL alongside proprietary storage engines would be able to extend those agreements on the same terms until December 10, 2014.

With regards to open source licensing, Oracle also committed to continue releasing future versions of the MySQL Community Edition under the GNU GPL, and that new releases of the Community Edition would coincide with new releases of the Enterprise Edition product, for which proprietary licenses and subscription support are available.

Oracle also promised that customers will not be required to purchase support subscriptions from Oracle in order to obtain a proprietary license and that users that do opt to pay for support will have a choice of annual or muti-year support subscriptions

Oracle also repeated its promise to increase research and development spending on MySQL, detailing that in each of the next three years it will spend more that the $24m Sun spent on developing MySQL in its most recent financial year.

The company also stated that it would create two advisory boards – one representing end users and another representing storage engine vendors – to provide guidance on development priorities and other issues. Both will be created within 18 months of the acquisition closing. Finally Oracle committed to maintaining and updating the MySQL Reference Manual at no charge.

Commission’s response

The European competition commission welcomed the commitments, noting that the promises regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension of existing commercial licenses are significant new facts to be taken into consideration.

In the context of the commitments Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes repeated her previous statement indicating optimism that an agreement could be reached that would allow the acquisition to proceed in a manner that would not have an adverse impact on competition in the European database market.

Last-minute intervention?

Although the commission responded warmly to Oracle’s commitments, the same cannot be said for Oracle’s opponents, especially Monty Program AB, the company set up by MySQL creator Monty Widenius to provide development and support for the MariaDB fork of the MySQL code base. Widenius has initiated a last-minute campaign to highlight user concerns over the future of MySQL, encouraging users to email the commission detailing their their about Oracle’s potential to raise prices and discourage MySQL developments that would enable it to better compete with the Oracle Database.

According to a recent survey of open source users conducted by The 451 Group, 14.4% of current MySQL users are less likely to use the open source database if it is acquired by Oracle, compared to 5.6% who are more likely to use MySQL if it is acquired by Oracle. The majority of users, 63.9%, will continue to use MySQL. That survey, and Widenius’s call to arms, came before the publication of Oracle’s commitments, however.

The 451 take

We did not expect Oracle to offer any concessions that would see it having to divest MySQL. The commitments that Oracle has made appear to strike a balance that protects the current business interests of MySQL storage engine providers and licensees without forcing Oracle to give up any rights to the database product. The EC’s swift and enthusiastic response indicates that the commitments settle many of its concerns about the future of MySQL. Oracle’s acquisition of Sun is not quite a done deal – we suspect there may still be room for negotiation regarding timescales – but it would appear that a major regulatory hurdle has just been lowered significantly. We now expect the proposed acquisition to be approved sooner rather than later. Oracle can be expected to invest in MySQL and position it as an alternative to Microsoft’s SQL Server at the low-end of the database market and for desktop and web applications while continuing to use its Oracle Database product to compete with SQL Server for high end enterprise applications. Do not expect Microsoft to take that competitive threat lying down. Even assuming that the EC’s investigation is near to completion, the controversy surrounding MySQL is likely to be far from over.

Open source means cost savings

We’ve just published our latest CAOS special report, ‘Climate Change -User perspectives on the impact of economic conditions on open source software adoption.’ The report is based on our recent survey findings among more than 1,700 open source software customers and users, and also offers guidance on calculating cost savings from open source software.

Those open source software customers and end users, which range from large enterprises to SMBs in a variety of industries and geographies, provided further reinforcement to the idea that difficult economic conditions can be good for open source software and its vendors. While we began examining this trend as it began at the end of last year, our November 2009 survey provided confirmation from customers that economic conditions are indeed driving many of their decisions in favor of open source software. When asked whether the current economic climate had impacted their companies’ attitude toward open source, 46.5% said they were more inclined to open source. Another 47.7% reported no change in attitude from the economy, but only 2.5% were less likely to adopt open source given current conditions. Another 3.4% were less likely to adopt any software because of the current economic climate (proprietary or open source).

What also stands out from the survey is the fact that open source software seems to be living up to its reputation as a cost-savings mechanism, meeting or exceeding cost savings expectations almost 90% of the time. Fewer than 5% of our respondents reported that open source software did not meet their cost-savings expectations.

While cost remains the key benefit for organizations deciding on open source software, flexibility emerges as the primary benefit after open source software has been adopted, according to our survey. Cost remains a key benefit, of course, but we also see other factors, such as reliability, performance and speed cited by survey respondents. Vendor lock-in, or avoiding it, is also a perceived benefit of open source software, but this is apparently becoming less important to customers, particularly after adoption.

The report delves more deeply into these and other trends, including both how customers and end users view the benefits of open source software, and how to effectively calculate potential cost savings from open source.

The full Climate Change report, including detailed analysis of the survey results and advice on cost analysis for open source software, is available now. Meanwhile a free version containing only the survey results is also available for download (registration required).

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.11

Sun updates Java platform. Red Hat open sources SPICE. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Sun has released Java Platform EE 6, Glassfish 3, and NetBeans 6.8.

# Red Hat released its SPICE hosted virtual desktop protocol as open source.

# Microsoft’s Windows 7 download tool is now available under the GPL.

# Canonical announced commercial services for its Bazaar version control system.

# TechCrunch reported that Relaxed has raised $2m from Redpoint Ventures For CouchDB support business.

# Alfresco contributed the Spring Surf Extension to the Spring community under Apache license.

# OpenLogic announced a new Source Code Scanning and License Compliance module for OLEX Enterprise Edition.

# KnowledgeTree and SugarCRM announced integration via iNet Process.

# Mozilla Messaging announced Thunderbird 3.

# LINBIT noted that Linus Torvalds has merged DRBD, for open source data replication, into Linux.

# Reuters reported that the French army sides with Mozilla in Microsoft email war.

# Bob Sutor’s list of FOSS events in 2010.

# Microsoft is reportedly moving its Orchard open source CMS project from the CodePlex repository to the CodePlex Foundation.

# Brian Prentice compared open source development to JIT manufacturing.

# Ian Skerrett announced that the Eclipse Marketplace is now live.

# Unicon launched support services for Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition.

# Fabrizio Capobianco reported that Bada starts with bad.

Open source was good enough, will non-open source be open enough?

There was a time years ago when open source software in the enterprise often had to be just ‘good enough.’ Over time, use and broader adoption, open source software has now reached the point that it must often be ‘as good or better’ than proprietary alternatives, now typically getting equal consideration from customers and users.

At the same time, we are seeing examples of non-open source players and technologies being used and adopted by customers and communities that, while aware and appreciative of open source software, are often content with non-open source as long as it is ‘open enough.’

Amazon’s cloud APIs are a perfect example of cloud computing technology that is acceptable and open to an extent, but certainly isn’t open source. Do they represent open standards? That’s somewhat unclear, but what does seem clear is that even though they aren’t open source, they may be open enough.

What will this mean for open source and the industry going forward? Matt has covered how cloud computing can be both complimentary and competitive for open source software. I believe this question of ‘open enough’ represents a significant challenge to open source software from non-open source vendors and forces that are learning to adapt to a more open world.

The case against the case against Oracle-MySQL

Matt Asay is right, in my opinion, to point out the inherent bias in the case Monty Widenius et al have made against Oracle’s potential ownership of MySQL. I would go further, however, in stating that the case being made against Oracle is flawed by the fact that it is so self-serving. For instance:

  • I previously noted that the Widenius/Mueller case against Oracle owning Sun/MySQL is entirely dependent on the theory that Oracle will not invest in the ongoing development of MySQL, which is something it has publicly committed to doing.
  • The case against Oracle owning Sun is also based on the theory that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate revenue is via dual licensing. This is clearly not the case. It might be true that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate the level of revenue required by Monty Program is through dual licensing, but that is not the same thing.
    It might also be true to say that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate the level of revenue required to be self-sustaining is though dual licensing, but that statement is dependent on the theory that Oracle will not invest in the ongoing development of MySQL, which is something it has publicly committed to doing.

    The launch of Amazon’s Relational Database Service clearly proved that it is possible to generate revenue from MySQL as a third party without dual licensing. RDS was dismissed by Florian Mueller, in an “information kit” sent to analysts/journalists as being “not a real ‘fork'”. This may be true, but it does not prove that RDS is not a viable way for a third party to generate revenue from MySQL, it just proves that it is not the way Monty Program chooses to generate revenue from MySQL.

  • The case against Oracle owning MySQL is also dependent on the theory that MySQL has progressed to the point where it is a viable “option to replace an existing Oracle installation”. This is wishful thinking at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.
    Ask someone who uses both Oracle and MySQL – Mark Callaghan for example – and they will tell you that despite the advances made by MySQL the two are not directly comparable. MySQL has undeniably been deployed to replace Oracle Database installations, but invariably this is due to the fact that the Oracle Database was not the right tool for the job in the first place.
    Too often IT users use a sledgehammer when a hammer will do, and the growth of MySQL was driven by the fact that it was the right tool for web-facing PHP applications. As we previously noted, Oracle executives once dismissed MySQL as a Toyota compared to its 747. It was a comparison that MySQL used to its advantage. Maybe today MySQL has grown some wings, but it is still more suitable for short-haul than trans-Atlantic flights.

    Perhaps this is missing the point, though. Perhaps without Oracle’s ownership MySQL could become a true competitor to Oracle. The “Project Peter” presentation suggests that Sun thought it could. I am not convinced this was anything other than an internal exercise.

    The only time MySQL executives ever made any statements about competing directly with Oracle, to my knowledge, was during the announcement that MySQL was being acquired by Sun, and senior executives later admitted that was the result of getting carried away. MySQL is fundamentally not designed to to do what Oracle Database is designed to do. If you wanted to create a database to compete directly with Oracle you’d be better off starting afresh than building on top of MySQL.

  • The case against Oracle owning MySQL is also reliant on the idea that “the only proposed remedy through which Oracle could ensure that MySQL continues to be a significant competitive force in the database would be a commitment to divest all MySQL assets to a suitable third party” (again from Mueller’s information kit). However, as Groklaw has pointed out, Monty et al previously suggested to the EU Commission in a questionnaire that the license on MySQL should be changed to the Apache License (Mueller has subsequently denied ever suggesting a license change, prompting this response from Groklaw).
    Additionally, our recent survey of open source users demonstrates that there would be limited market acceptance for the forced divestiture of MySQL to another vendor. Just 4.3% of all respondents and 3.9% of MySQL users thought that Oracle should be forced to sell it to another vendor. This is not about user interests, it is about the interests of Monty Program AB.
  • Last, but by no means least, the case against Oracle owning MySQL is flawed in its reliance on FUD and ad hominem attacks. As Groklaw points out, the case was laid out by alleging that the GPL has the potential to infect proprietary software.
    Things went from bad to worse with the response to Eben Moglen’s view on the case. Mueller wrote that “Compared to Richard Stallman [Moglen is} very unimportant in a GPL context”. Not only that but that when Mueller met Moglen in 2004 Moglen “was primarily interested in obtaining funding (at the time from MySQL, on whose behalf I met with him) for some initiatives of his (at the time “patent busting”, a pretty pointless approach that never got anywhere but some lawyers made some money with it)”.

    Mueller recently wrote (in another email to analysts/journalists) that “lobbying is typically what companies do when they can’t win on the substance of a case”. I hate to think what position you have to be in to decide that bad-mouthing one of the most respected lawyers in free and open source software is going to get you somewhere.

    It would be bad enough if it were only Mueller. Recent Henrik Ingo of the Open Database Alliance stated that Mogen “is working for Oracle here” and “is arguing Oracle’s case best he can”.

    This is at best misleading and at worst (taken in consideration alongside Florian Mueller’s statement about Moglen) a slur on Moglen’s integrity. Moglen’s opinion paper clearly states that it was submitted “at the invitation of Oracle’s counsel, but I am not receiving any compensation, fee or reward for so doing.”

  • UPDATE: Finally, we have Monty Widenius’s plea to his fellow MySQL users/developers in which he criticizes Oracle for involving customers in a competition hearing (and there I was thinking it was all about customers) and takes Oracle to task for not promising a number of things. Many of these he has a point about, but then when did MySQL AB or Sun make promises about the following?
    – To keep (all of) MySQL under an open source license
    – Not to add closed source parts, modules or required tools.
    – To not raise MySQL license or MySQL support prices
    – To release new MySQL versions in a regular and timely manner.
    – To continue with dual licensing and always provide affordable commercial licenses to MySQL to those who needs them (to storage vendors and application vendors) or provide MySQL under a more permissive license
    – To develop MySQL as an Open Source project
    – To actively work with the community
    – Apply submitted patches in a timely manner
  • AND ANOTHER THING: The case also relies on the theory that MySQL acts as a price constraint on Oracle Database. However, as Stephen O’Grady points out: “Remember June of 2008? Oracle hiked its prices by 15-20% with no detectible impact to its volume. If MySQL was a real, substantial alternative, wouldn’t we have seen wholesale migrations away from Oracle to MySQL? That we didn’t, and continue not to, tells me they’re two different markets.” Good point well made.

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.08

Palm sued for GPL violation. Wind River launches Android distro. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Palm sued by Artifex over alleged GPL violation.

# Bradley M Kuhn described “The Anatomy of a Modern GPL Violation.”

# Wind River launched a commercial Android platform, optimized on the Texas Instruments OMAP 3 Platform.

# GigaOM reported that Android has stepped closer to fragmentation.

# JetBrains released both the Community and Ultimate editions of IntelliJ IDEA 9.

# Talend announced the availability of Talend Integration Suite LCP, extending Talend Open Studio.

# Black Duck Software offered a five-point checklist for the successful deployment of applications built with OSS.

# Gear6 introduced Gear6 Web Cache Server for the Cloud – a commercial Memcached offering on EC2.

# Red Hat updated its MRG, messaging, real-time and grid offering.

# OStatic published Sam Dean’s predictions: What’s Coming for Open Source in 2010.

# The H reported that EtherPad is to become open source as Google changes plans.

# Gluster announced the general availability of Gluster Storage Platform.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.12.04

Topics for this podcast:

*As the Oracle-Sun-MySQL EC world turns
*Google gets its Web on with Go and Chrome
*Open source and cloud computing complement, compete
*How transparent is your open core?

iTunes or direct download (26:20, 6.0 MB)

451 CAOS Links 2009.12.04

Eben Moglen says EC case against Oracle-Sun is flawed. The value of open source. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Eben Moglen told the EC he does not see threat to competition from Oracle-Sun, says EC’s objections are flawed. A statement from the SFLC is here, while the letter itself is here.

# The New York Post reported that Oracle has offered to quarantine MySQL as a separate business entity within Oracle. Oracle said the New York Post article is “completely untrue”.

# Bernard Dalle articulated the opportunity for open source in cloud computing.

# Alex Weid explained “The value of Open Source Software in enterprise IT”.

# Nelson Ko asked “Do Open Source and Venture Capital Mix?”

# Mike Vizard explained “The New Economics of Open Source in the Enterprise”.

# Mark Radcliffe explained “Why the NY Times is Wrong about Open Source”.

# Thoughtful analysis by Kelly Herrell on strategic value of open source businesses and M&A.

# Novell reported $149m Linux revenue in fiscal 09, up 21%. Total 09 revenue down 10% to $862m, net loss $213m.

# Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco wrote to the EC urging it to approve Oracle-Sun.

# Zend released version 7.1 of its Zend Studio PHP environment.

# Is Eclipse an Open Source Community or Trade Association? eWeek provided a summary of the recent debate.

# In the face of competition, Red Hat articulated the benefits of its subscription model.

# GroundWork Open Source announced a new SUSE-based virtual appliance for systems management.

# SugarCRM released version 5.5 including a new mobile studio editor and web services framework.

# Opsera released version 3.5 of its open source systems management software

# Datamation reported Open Source Projects and the Meritocracy Myth.

# Alfresco detailed the first open source software stack to obtain U.S. Department of Defense 5015.02 certification.

# Mark Callaghan, MySQLer at Facebook (and previously Google) explained how Oracle RDBMS != MySQL RDBMS.

# Nokia maintained that it is not giving up on Symbian.

# Dutch Government to release open source tools To Help European entrepreneurs.

# Swedish National Police Board (SNPB) to save €20m by switching to open source servers.

# KnowledgeTree released version 3.7 of its open source document management software.

# Zmanda launched Zmanda Backup Appliance (ZBA), a pre-configured virtual backup server for VMware environments

# OSS Watch examined the issue of release management in open source projects

# Open source collaboration software vendor Open-Xchange released a free connector for Mozilla Thunderbird.

# WaveMaker released a version of its open source cloud development platform for Mac OS X.

# Should Microsoft open source Internet Explorer? Matt Asay and Preston Gralla think so.

451 Group survey highlights user concerns over Oracle’s proposed ownership of MySQL

Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether Oracle should be allowed to acquire the MySQL database along with Sun Microsystems including former MySQL/Sun executives, developers, rivals, partners, analysts, journalists, the Department of Justice and even US Senators. What do open source software users think?

We asked the members of the “CAOS user community”* to tell what they thought of the proposed deal, as well as share some details on current database usage. The results have been published in the form of a 451 Group report (subscribers only) but here’s some of the headline figures:

  • The use of MySQL is expected to decline from 82.1% of the 347 respondents today as 78.7% expect to be using it in 2011, declining to 72.3% 2014.
  • The proposed acquisition of MySQL by Oracle has a part to play in that decline. 15% of all open source users and 14.4% of current MySQL users responded that they would be less likely to use MySQL if it is acquired by Oracle.
  • MariaDB usage is expected to rise from zero usage today to 3.5% of all users in 2011 and 3.7% in 2014
  • The majority – 57.9% of all users and 63.9% of MySQL users – indicated that they would continue to use MySQL where appropriate, however.
  • The negative attitude towards Oracle is specific to concerns over its future plans for MySQL, however. Oracle Database usage is expected to rise from 19.3% today to 19.6% in 2011 and 21.6% in 2014.
  • PostgreSQL usage is also expected to grow, from 27.1% of all users today to 30.5% in 2011, remaining at the same level in 2014.
  • 6.3% of all open source users and 5.6% of MySQL users are more likely to use MySQL if it is acquired by Oracle.
  • 17.6% of all respondents and 16.8% of MySQL users stated that they thought that Oracle should be allowed to keep MySQL.
  • 32.6% of all respondents and 34.0% of MySQL users stated that Oracle should hand the database to an independent foundation to continue its development.
  • Just 4.3% of all respondents and 3.9% of MySQL users thought that Oracle should be forced to sell it to another vendor, which is the preferred option of the most vocal opponents to Oracle’s impending ownership of MySQL
  • In comparison 13.8% of all respondents and 12.3% of MySQL users said they did not care either what happened to MySQL.

Further survey results, analysis and details on the respondents are available in the 451 Group’s report.

*The survey was completed by 347 open source software users who are among the 1,000-plus members of the “CAOS open source user community”. It includes open source software users from every geography, industry and business size. Just below 16% of the CAOS open source user community claim to be nonpaying open source users, as opposed to customers of open source support services and related products. Users do not have to be 451 Group customers to be part of the community.