MySQL CEO seeks partnerships with IBM, Microsoft

Mickos laughed off a suggestion that Red Hat's next purchase could be MySQL

The companies MySQL would most like to have a relationship with are IBM and Microsoft, says Marten Mickos, chief executive officer of the open-source database company.

"It's an important goal of ours to have strategic relationships with all the major platform suppliers," Mickos said Thursday. "Specifically noteworthy, we have a desire to work with IBM. But people say, 'IBM has a database.' We don't see that as an issue."

The two companies are already teaming up in some early unspecified areas, he said, pointing to IBM's sponsorship of the MySQL Users Conference due to take place April 24-27 in Santa Clara, California.

"We're [also] eager to work with Microsoft," Mickos said. "Forty percent of our installed base are on Windows. We want to better serve them."

As well as running on Windows, MySQL also already integrates with Microsoft's .Net, Mickos said.

Mickos laughed off a suggestion that Red Hat's next purchase could be MySQL. The Linux distribution vendor appears busy building a software stack, having recently announced plans to buy open-source middleware player JBoss Inc. Given that strategy, the next logical move would involve buying an open-source database. "Ask Red Hat [about it]," Mickos said. "We have a wonderful business as of today."

As increasing numbers of the world's population go online, the need for vast amounts of computing infrastructure including open-source software to support those users will skyrocket, according to Mickos. He foresees at least one if not several US$1 billion open-source software companies. "It's not clear who it'll be," he said.

"If you look at it from 30,000 feet [today], sure Red Hat is the biggest," he said. "Even they're not super big." Privately held MySQL had sales of around $40 million in 2005, Mickos noted.

He's just read "Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth" by Marshall Goldsmith. The book describes how companies, including software players, have managed to grow their businesses to $1 billion. The book suggests it takes a company between two and 10 years to reach an inflection point, then four, six or 12 years to hit $1 billion.

In the open-source world, Red Hat has hit that inflection point, although it's unclear at which year the vendor will crack the billion dollar mark, according to Mickos. He declined to say whether MySQL had already reached its inflection point, but said the company did have a great opportunity for growth. Databases, particularly ones that can use a variety of different storage engines, will be important to support huge numbers of online users accessing a wide variety of applications, he added.

MySQL will make a number of announcements around database engines at its user conference next week, Mickos said. The vendor will open up its database storage API (application programming interface) to encourage third parties to develop their own engines for the MySQL database. MySQL will also talk up its own new transactional database engine, code-named Falcon, due to enter public beta testing in the summer.

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