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MySQL’s Slight Changes to Business Plan After Sun’s Acquisition (Corrected, Updatedx2)

Posted in CDDL, Database, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, SUN at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Important correction: mind the comments. Changes to the business plan, if any, were made before the acquisition.]

We have recently seen a good share of criticisms of Sun Microsystems, but they probably deserve trust (or the benefit of the doubt) where they have not caused any harm. Here is an interesting new observation which is made by Matt Aslett now that the acquisition of MySQL has been finalised:

Sun limits MySQL Enterprise Unlimited


A little less loudly the company has also confirmed that it has tinkered with the terms of MySQL Enterprise Unlimited, the site-wide agreement introduced in January last year that provided unlimited use of MySQL Enterprise for $40,000, the same price Oracle charges per CPU for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition.

MySQL Enterprise Unlimited is proof of the open source model’s ability to disrupt a market but also effectively places a cap on the revenue MySQL – and now Sun – can earn per customer. Or at least it used to. As the small print on Sun’s MySQL product page indicates, while Enterprise Unlimited still allows for adoption on any number of servers, the offer is now only available to companies with 400 employees or less.

Limits are not a nice thing. It’s a little concerning in light of this other news about Sun’s plan to acquire more companies (it recently snatched Innotek, but the acquisition seems benign so far).

Sun Microsystems said Tuesday that it has completed its acquisition of open-source database company MySQL for about $1 billion–and now is turning its attention to other acquisitions.

It does not say if these acquisitions will involve open source or not. And in any event, Microsoft has similar plans, based on what Steve Ballmer said back in October.

This is not a case of complaining about Sun, but it is important that we know what business model Sun intends to adopt for MySQL or open source in general (dreadful dual-licensing with CDDL comes to mind).

I’ve asked Simon Phipps (in his blog) to comment on this one. If I receive a response, I’ll share it here.

Update: to Sun’s credit, according to the second article, “MySQL is governed by version 2 of the General Public License (GPL) since 2000, but the company likely will move to GPLv3, Mickos said.” That is truly a change because about a year ago, Mickos told Matt Aslett that he would stick with GPLv2. Well done, Sun.

Update #2: Here is the response to my question to Simon Phipps:

I’m expecting Mårten to adjust all of MySQL’s business practices now they are part of Sun, without harming any established loyalties (so everyone is saying GNU/Linux is the priority for MySQL for example).

In this case it seems that they want the “Unlimited” plan to be aimed at small (presumably growing) business and are leaving room for a new plan for the sort of enterprises Sun deals with. What’s the concern? I don’t see an obvious Free software issue (but then again the coffee hasn’t cut in yet this morning).

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  1. Matt said,

    February 27, 2008 at 11:24 am


    Actually I got that wrong. The post has now been updated accordingly. In fact Sun deserves congratulations for being more open about the existing limitations of MySQL Enterprise Unlimited.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 27, 2008 at 11:34 am


    Thanks, I’ll correct this one accordingly as well. A chain of misinformation, I guess.

    Oops, I’ve posted this to a place where this cannot be changed (corrected).

  3. Scott Mace said,

    February 27, 2008 at 5:29 pm


    You may be interested to know that MySQL’s anti-software patent Web page went dark when the Sun deal was completed.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 27, 2008 at 9:44 pm


    Hi Scott,

    It’s funny that you mention it because I’ve had your short blog post about it queued up for posting later today.

    Your good observations were noted before, e.g. here:

    All in all, I don’t think the acquisition is a good thing to Free software. Definitely not for Linux (the kernel)…

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