Sun targets open source LAMP stack with MySQL acquisition

SunSun has sent shockwaves through the open-source software community today by acquiring open-source database company MySQL AB. The MySQL database is regarded as one of the core components of open source server infrastructure, the so-called Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LAMP) stack. This acquisition will pit Sun against proprietary database vendors like Oracle and also open-source middleware vendors like Red Hat. More significantly, this appears to be part of a larger strategy by Sun to position its own technologies as an alternative to the conventional LAMP stack.

MySQL fits neatly with Sun’s other major software offerings, the Solaris operating system and the Java programming language. Sun has been opening up the source code of both Java and Solaris in recent years in an effort to make them more relevant in a market that increasingly demands open technologies. Sun has been working hard to position OpenSolaris as a better Linux than Linux and has also labored to make Java more open and more flexible in order to prevent dynamic scripting languages like Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby from eroding Java’s strength on the server. Sun’s aim is to provide a cohesive enterprise server solution that the company likely hopes will displace LAMP: OpenSolaris, Apache, MySQL, and Java.

In a blog entry where MySQL published its official announcement of the acquisition, the company expressed strong affinity for the Solaris operating system. “Solaris has a special position in the heart of MySQL, as it was the first platform under which MySQL was developed. Linux came second. Internally, code coverage tests were long performed just on Sun. And with the DTrace probes planned as part of 6.0, some types of optimisation of MySQL applications are the easiest on Solaris,” MySQL community vice president Kaj Arno wrote. “I would expect that having access to the topmost Solaris and Java experts within the same company will accelerate our development for the benefit of MySQL users on the Solaris platform, and in the Java environment, respectively.”

Although MySQL will be working closely with Sun, Arno also emphasizes the fact that the LAMP stack is here to stay. “I don’t expect [closer ties with Java and Solaris] in any way to be at the cost of other popular operating systems… or development environments,” says Arno. “MySQL grew with LAMP and MySQL without LAMP at its core is simply unimaginable.” Despite Arno’s confidence that the acquisition will not impact MySQL’s role in the conventional LAMP stack, MySQL users who are wary of Sun could potentially meander towards vendor-neutral alternatives like PostgreSQL.

Although Sun’s acquisition of MySQL creates some concerns about the future of the open source database, there are also many ways in which this acquisition could bolster the strength of MySQL on all platforms. “So while the news may be especially good for MySQL users on Solaris and/or Java, the news is definitely good irrespective of environment,” Arno says. “As part of Sun, the MySQL database will have immediate access to technical, marketing, OSS developer relations and sales resources that would have taken us years to build as an independent company.”

Regardless of the underlying platform implications, Sun’s acquisition of MySQL broadly validates open-source database solutions as viable alternatives to proprietary commercial database products like those from Oracle and IBM. In the long-term, this could be a very positive development for open source on the server.

Link Link: Ars Technica