Sun's Open Source Appliances

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When Sun announced at the beginning of this year that it was buying MySQL for the not inconsiderable sum of a billion dollars, the question most people posed to themselves was how Sun was going to recoup its investment.

I was initially worried that Sun might try to push Solaris over GNU/Linux in the LAMP stack, but Sun's CEO, Jonathan Schwartz was adamant that wasn't going to happen.

Now, nearly a year later, we're beginning to see what exactly Sun has in mind:

Like Wikipedia, most of the planet's largest web sites (just look at the top 100) are built atop Sun's MySQL database. Which is why we've just introduced a line of systems platform designed specifically to run MySQL - at up to 3x the performance of whitebox alternatives (after all, it's far easier marketing to audiences that have already chosen Sun). We're now expanding those offerings with our newest Open Storage portfolio, as well - built to run ZFS from 5 to 50x traditional performance.

As many of us suspected, Sun is trying to use the fact that a company is running MySQL to sell them some hardware, too, touting big performance gains:

With Sun Systems for MySQL x86 Performance, you can improve performance by up to 50% regardless of which OS you run—Linux, Windows, Solaris, or OpenSolaris. Backed by the world-class functionality of Sun's MySQL Enterprise, this unique combination of innovative servers and software expertise can help you get more done with fewer resources while more easily managing data.

Based on industry-standard benchmark results, Sun can provide you with a complete open stack solution that costs up to 53x less, and delivers up to 13x better price performance than a proprietary solutions.

I'm slightly sceptical about the speed improvements quoted – is it really possible to optimise hardware *that* much for a particular piece of software, irrespective of the underlying operating system? – but I presume that there must be some substance to it or people would soon call Sun's bluff.

What's also interesting in Schwartz's posting quoted at the top is that Sun is extending the idea to include its Open Storage product, “built to run ZFS from 5 to 50x traditional performance”. I wonder whether we'll see other offerings of hardware optimised for particular open source apps.