A “second opinion” on MySQL

This is so brain-dead, it is actually quite funny: In a move to make sure that he will be seen – once again – as a brave contrarian, John Dvorak thinks that Oracle paid Sun to kill MySQL. After reading this article, I had to verify that this was not The Onion, but actually MarketWatch.

His argument is fairly simple: Sun has a bad track-record of M&A, so Larry Ellison forces his old buddy Scott  … ahmm, no wait, it’s Jonathan now … to buy MySQL and ruin it. To prove his point, Dvorak links to a list of recent Sun aquisitions that – allegedly – went bad.

Let’s take a look at that list of “failures” again:

  • SavaJe – JavaFX Mobile

  • SeeBeyond – JavaCAPS

  • Tarantella – Secure Desktop

  • Waveset – Identity Manager

  • StarDivision – OpenOffice (my addition to the list)

Last time I checked, pretty much all of these above technologies were thriving, some of them actually driving at the leading edge of their respective markets and/or standards regimen. Have there been failures or less successful aquisitions? You bet – that happens practically everywhere. There were also some aquisitions that were mildly successful, and others that came to pay off in rather unexpected ways or much later (Cobalt and the Sun x86 story come to mind).

The MySQL acquisition was and still is nothing short of brilliant. Sun has a major league RDBMS now that is being used by virtually everyone in the (your favorite technology moniker here) 2.0 market. And while most of these organizations and individuals are happy with an unsupported open source model, there are still a lot of big companies that use MySQL who are in need of support and other services. This business model fits perfectly into the entire Sun software portfolio and long-term strategy.

It is probably a sign of the time that tech pundits and columnists are now far behind of what is happening in the industry – especially when it comes to business models. On the other hand, Dvorak has been a commentator with a particularly bad track record of making predictions: think about his dismissal of the Macintosh mouse in 1984, his prediction of the iBook failure, his expectation that the iPhone will be a miserable failure, or even his prediction on Microsoft closing down, since the software market is supposedly dead.

The thing that is really sad is that there are even today people who read the name and the headline and assume that he has got a point. He doesn’t.

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