SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- Since its founding in 1995, MySQL has managed to establish itself as the provider of the best-known open source database on the market and hopes to dent the armor of big name vendors such as IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft.
With a product that lacks many features found in software from those top vendors, the Swedish company is aiming at a slice of the database market that it sees as commoditized, where companies can use a low-cost product like MySQL for everyday needs. Meta Group Inc. analyst Charlie Garry has called it "the wildcard in the competitive $12 billion database market." Challenges include attracting applications and tools to its platform, overcoming apprehensions about open source at corporations, and cracking a mature market that is widely viewed as a three-horse race.
MårtenMickos, MySQL's chief executive officer, sat down with IDG News Service for an interview at the company's first user show last week in San Jose, California. He talked about how businesses can use MySQL, its competitors, and why the Nordic region might be a cradle for open source products.
IDGNS: You've said your goal isn't to displace vendors like Oracle and IBM but to exist alongside them. How should businesses think about using your software?
MM: The typical customer has plenty of, say, DB2 installations, and they come to us and say, Couldn't we use you in some of those instead? Today those applications are typically Web sites, Web applications and intranets, that's one area. The second area is administration -- network administration, authorization, database log-in, and also logging data, for systems management. The third area is data warehousing, where you have masses of data being dumped in and out. Then we are at the edge of the enterprise. We're not a typical datacenter database today but we are a good fit at the edge -- at the departmental level and in remote locations. That's where you can use us.
We all know that for DB2 and Oracle installations, the lifecycle is long and they are typically not replaced often, and we are not saying they should be.
IDGNS: Should we think of you as the Red Hat of the database market or are you a different type of company?
MM: Yes and no. Red Hat is the most popular Linux distributor, we are the most popular open source database. We both built our business on open source. Then we get to the "no" part. We are the owners of our source code. We offer the dual licensing system that I presented here. So we have a business model that is different from Red Hat. We sell licenses, that's part of building up our business.
IDGNS: So a customer can download your product for free, in which case they have to share any improvements they make with others, or they can pay a license fee, in which case they can keep their modifications to the software to themselves. Is that right? How much is a license?
MM: That's right. The license is $440 per server. It's a flat fee, there's no charge per CPU or per user.