Extinguishing LAMP: Sun Buys MySQL

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Wow, I wasn't expecting this one: Sun is buying MySQL:

the biggest news of the day is... we're putting a billion dollars behind the M in LAMP. If you're an industry insider, you'll know what that means - we're acquiring MySQL AB, the company behind MySQL, the world's most popular open source database.

Only a billion? Marten Mickos must by losing his nerve: I always expected MySQL would go for much more than that. On the other hand, it's a shrewd move by Jonathan Schwartz. His posting makes it pretty clear why Sun is doing this:

Until now, no platform vendor has assembled all the core elements of a completely open source operating system for the internet. No company has been able to deliver a comprehensive alternative to the leading proprietary OS. With this acquisition, we will have done just that - positioned Sun at the center of the web, as the definitive provider of high performance platforms for the web economy. For startups and web 2.0 companies, to government agencies and traditional enterprises. This creates enormous potential for Sun, for the global free software community, and for our partners and customers across the globe. There's opportunity everywhere.

Well, maybe. But the clearest opportunity is for Sun, the archetypal dotcom 1.0 company, whose products formed the backbone of the early Internet, which desperately wants to own dotcom 2.0 as well. The trouble is, that post is already occupied, by the LAMP stack – which, with only a few exceptions, is used by every leading Web 2.0 company of note.

By buying MySQL, Sun clearly wants to buy into that stack and success – and push out GNU/Linux, either with OpenSolaris (for those startups that Schwartz mentions), or with the full-fig Solaris for the “traditional” (= boring and conservative) enterprises.

It's a clever plan that makes sense on paper, but it remains to be seen whether LAMP will get junked in favour of SAMP. I doubt it, personally, because despite all the excellent work Sun has done in the field of open source, there remain lingering suspicions, fuelled by its insistence on retaining significant control over both Java and OpenOffice.org.

Exactly how it runs its new MySQL division, and how much it tries to turn LAMP into SAMP will determine once and for all its reputation among the wider open source community – as well as whether those billion dollars were well spent or not.

Update: more here.

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