MySQL:The Mouse that Roared

For all you Peter Sellers movie buffs, The Mouse That Roared, is still quite entertaining despite the War on Terror as it tells the story of an impoverished backward nation that declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose and then get all the postwar US rebuilding aid. Its one of the classic David and Goliath stories with Peter Sellers in his first starring roles (catch the three parts if you can), adding his marvellously droll humor. Fans of The Daily Shows Stephen Colbert or Robert Corddry will see the same, self-deprecating bumpkin wit with the added bonus of speaking in malaprop tongues and great slapstick timing.

Meanwhile, small Open Source vendor MySQL AB, seems determined to play the same mismatch with equal innocent aplomb and perhaps tragi-comic results. First, we know that MySQL is small because it didnt even appear to be in the bidding for InnoDB, the Finnish opensource data engine provider scooped up by Oracle. That makes one of MySQLs 8-10 database engines (MySQL uses a very clever modular architecture for its targetted suite of database engines), the property of MySQLs number one competitor, Oracle and its “I-would-like-to-be-Bill-Gates” CEO. Not necessarily a good thing given that the InnoDB engine is key to transaction processing in the MySQL world (see how important it is in the new MySQL5.0). Now Oracles “Bill-Gates-Wannabee” can make great mischief on MySQL if he so chooses.

Of course part of the reason that MySQL is so small relative to Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and the other database behemoths is because MySQL charges $0 per seat for licensing its database in comparison to the $100-400/seat charged by the database BigBulls. As usual, MySQL makes its revenues in support, training and database engines derived from the MySQL core. But with the launch of mySQL 5.0, the company is taking a pro-active, Mouse that roared approach. Here is a sample from the 5.0 release datasheet:

MySQL allows you to significantly reduce your database Total Cost
of Ownership (TCO). On average, companies using MySQL are
experiencing per-project savings of between $250,000 and
$500,000. Larger enterprise deployments, are yielding savings
in the millions of dollars. MySQL reduces database TCO by:
– Reducing licensing costs by over 90%;
– Cutting system down time by 60%;
– Lowering hardware expenditure by 70%;
– Reducing administration, enginering and support costs by up to 50%.

Now I have just written a mini-review of MySQL for Intelligent Enterprise, and so can verify that these numbers are well within the ballpark of what MySQL can deliver on well engineered projects. But this is tantamount to waving a red flag among the database Bullies.

Take for example Microsoft SQL Server 2005. It is about to be launched on November 8th at “too much of a bargain” price of $100/seat given the included the free complete BIStack. With this launch Microsoft is showing no fear whatsoever of Judge Colleen Kottar-Kotelly in her administration of the DOJ Antitrust Consent decree. Microsoft is engaging in the same “cutting-off the oxygen to Netscape” pricing that left it paying a billion dollars to AOL/Nestscape for damages (but priceless for getting to dominate and stall Web development for the past 5-7 years). And with MySQL claiming that it reduces administration, engineering and support costs by up to 50%, it puts MySQL in direct conflict with Microsofts Get the Flax …uhh Facts campaign against LAMP-Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP, execs at MySQL may get Steve Ballmer tossing a few chairs their way.

But the serious matter of fact is that Oracle and IBM also have added free BI capabilities to their database offerings – not quite a total BI giveaway as in the case of Microsoft, but very substantial. Also Oracle, for example, has started to make BI analytics and data mining functions a part of the database. And given that the BI/OLAP side of database is growing faster than the traditional OLTP, a significant move.

What can MySQL do ? Simply by announcing 5.0 and its features they become the mouse that roared. What will be interesting is how agile MySQL can become. Can they strike alliances and deliver new BI packaging with proprietary and Open Source BI vendors that will protect their flank? Or will they need to be bought out by some large proprietary IT vendor, say a SAP or Cisco, to protect them from being the mouse that eeked just as the database Bullies stomped all over them? Oh to have Peter around to narrate the sequel.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005