MySQL AB: You made your bed now lie in it with Oracle.

It is very frustrating to watch Oracle’s acquisition of SUN make its way through regulatory approval as a small band of MySQL users are attempting to use the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” principal to disrupt the process.  This has led to over 14,000 MySQL users signing a petition to the EU opposing Oracle’s acquisition of SUN.

The ring leader of this effort is none other than the founder and creator of MySQL, Michael “Monty” Widenius.  Monty, and others, are deathly afraid that Oracle will effectively do one or more of the following; freeze development/bug fixes, change the current MySQL licensing, attempt to migrate MySQL customers to Oracle’s proprietary database, or ignore the community wishes and limit developers ability to improve MySQL’s capabilities that would lead to more direct competition with Oracle’s proprietary database.

As with any acquisition, the employees or in this case the community have legitimate reasons for concern.  Oracle is a development/engineering/marketing/sales machine that dominates the database industry.  Additionally, until Oracle closes this acquisition they have and will remain relatively quiet or ambiguous about SUN‘s (MySQL) future. 

Some users point to Oracle’s acquisition of Innobase as the primary reason for concern of MySQL’s future.   However, this acquisition took place in 2005 and was Oracle’s “warning shot” to MySQL.  Why?  Innobase was the creator of InnoDB that provides the underlying code for the InnoDB storage engine in MySQL.  In 2005, Oracle and many ISVs were unsure of the competitive threats derived from open source software products such as MySQL.  Leave it to Larry Ellison to find a way to defend his turf while sending a definitive message to the open source community.  Today, ISVs like Oracle have come-to-terms with open source software and strive to be active in both the proprietary and open source domains.

In the end, it’s hard to feel sorry for Monty and the other Executives of MySQL AB.  Lost in all these discussions and protests is the fact that MySQL AB sold out to SUN for a cool $1 Billion. MySQL had a choice; sell out or continue as an independent company.   MySQL AB could have raised capital, purchased Innobase, and continued building a world-class open source database.  Instead, altruistic intentions gave way to dollar bills.

The saga of MySQL serves as a reminder to all Open Source Software Projects and Communities that there is no free lunch; ultimately the software code and rights are owned by an individual or an entity.  The decisions made by these individuals or entities effect community members, contributors, and users on many levels; emotionally, financially, etc.  Today, I worry about many Open Source Projects that reside within SUN and other groups. 

MySQL AB made their bed, now lie in it with Oracle.

Why Cisco needs Liquid Computing

It must feel a bit like being in the movie Groundhog Day over at Cisco as they continue to face increasing competition from both large and small challengers.  However, unlike the past, consolidation and the rise of the next generation datacenter (Cloud Computing) has dramatically raised the stakes.  Cisco cannot simply use their superior channel, army of certified engineers and sales people, partnerships, and market power to eliminate or marginalize the competition.  Further complicating matters is the delicate balance between companies that both cooperate and compete within the same market.

As Cisco marches forward with their Unified Computing strategy, they’ll need more than organic development and growth to unseat the likes of HP, IBM, Dell, and Sun.  I was highly disappointed with Cisco’s UCS B-Series Blade Servers as they weren’t as innovative or as tied into the Nexus products as I had hoped.  To that end, it is time for Cisco to shake up the server market with an acquisition (or two) of their own.

One such acquisition target is Liquid Computing headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Liquid Computing has built a unified computing system called LiquidIQ that is made up of both hardware and software.  From a hardware perspective, Liquid Computing is innovative, dense, and creates a “datacenter in a rack”.  From a software perspective, Liquid Computing has created a central point for management with their LiquidView software including server, storage, and network configuration and management. 

With one brush of Cisco’s checkbook, they would instantly change the game and rock the IT industry.  An acquisition of Liquid Computing could be as important to Cisco as it was when they purchased Kalpana in 1994.  While Liquid Computing has been branded a “Visionary” in Gartner’s 2009 Magic Quadrant, an acquisition by Cisco would certainly elevate them into the Magic Quadrant (Upper Right-Hand Corner).

Imagine re-branding and integrating Liquid Computing with Cisco’s Nexus and Unified Computing product lines.  Virtually overnight, this new solution based on Liquid Computing would be injected into the Cisco machine and made available to customers worldwide.  Over time, Cisco would strengthen Liquid Computing’s ties to EMC and VMware, while injecting more and more core Nexus technology into the solution.

Cisco is on the cusp of not only redefining themselves but also an entire industry.  To complete this transformation, Cisco must bold and move out of their comfort zone.  The game has definitely changed as Cisco’s greatest competitive threats do not necessarily come from classic networking providers or start-ups such as Juniper, Brocade, or Riverbed; instead, it comes from the likes of HP, IBM, Dell, Huawei, and more. 

Instead of simply watching HP buy 3Com, Dell and IBM OEM Juniper equipment, Oracle buying Sun, and awaiting Huawei’s entrance into the U.S Market (possibly with the purchase of Motorola), Cisco must launch an offensive on the server vendors via a visionary acquisition. 

Could this visionary acquisition be Liquid Computing?  Perhaps Groundhog Day may be coming to an end.