Sun buys MySQL for $1billion

MySQLOne of the worlds biggest open source projects is being bought by one of the worlds biggest and richest software companies. Sun Microsystems is handing over $1 billion dollars to buy the worlds most popular open source database, MySQL.

This move has sent shock waves through the open source community. The initial reaction seems to be one of concern. Being owned by a software corporation seems to fly in the face of what it means to be open source. Open source is all about a community of developers and users making a product organically. The very people who build it are the very people who use it. It is not about profit margins, targets and the dreaded licensing fees.

But what will actually happen to MySQL?

Sure Sun are going to want a return on their investment. But are they likely to introduce licensing fees that will alienate the very people that had made MySQL the biggest web database on the planet? Unlikely. Sun must know all to well that it needs the open source community on its side to continue to grow MySQL. Sun have not only bought a fantastic product, they have bought a fantastic community.

The more likely result is that Sun will push MySQL more into the corporate sector as an enterprise level database (you can already buy an enterprise level version from MySQL). Sun can offer other corporations the kind of support that they currently get from Microsoft with its SQL Server database. The combination of a highly successful software company and a highly active and huge open source community will be sending shivers down the spin of Microsoft.

Sun does have a good record with Open Source technology. They own OpenOffice, the open source equivalent to Microsoft Office. They recently released the source code to its Java programming language. They seem to want to position themselves as leaders in the Open Source world. Good on them, it is a very wise move.

Only time will tell what will happen to MySQL in the hands of sun. But I for one am excited about its prospects.