Open-Source Tech Focus: Information Flow

Database company MySQL's plans for growth include expanding its partner network

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Open source no longer means second rate, and many of the industry’s largest vendors and solution providers are showing their support by throwing their hats in the ring with open-source database maker MySQL.

Vendors such as Ingram Micro, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are partnering with the open-source database company to provide services, software and support, and MySQL is counting on its expanding partner network to help it grow.

“Five years ago, we realized that our success would be dependent on the success of our partners, and that the database—no matter how glorified—was just a component of a solution,” said Mrten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, Cupertino, Calif.

“We started doing that, and today we have about 1,000 partners—some very strategic ones and some are the hottest new startups in open source,” he said.

Although MySQL is still a small company, it has come a long way toward proving itself and creating strong partnerships in the open-source community, thereby garnering powerful customers, Mickos said.

“We’re still a fairly small company, but we’ve managed to secure relationships with some of the most important players in the industry,” he said.

Mickos estimates that there are about 10 million users of MySQL worldwide. Its current customers include heavy-hitters in the e-commerce world such as Yahoo, Ticketmaster and Evite, he said.

“They are the survivors of the Internet bubble, and today, they are some of the most profitable companies,” he said. “They clearly have performance and availability as high requirements.”

MySQL’s product line includes the MySQL 5.0 Pro Certified Server, its enterprise-class database software, and MySQL 5.0 Community Edition, targeted at open-source developers and technology fans. The vendor also offers network support services, training and certifications.

Global IT consulting firm and solution provider Unisys last week announced its decision to partner with MySQL. It will offer MySQL software and provide consulting, support and integration services for the solution provider’s customers. Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys also will be the first reseller for the MySQL Cluster product that combines the open-source database with a fault-tolerant database clustering architecture.

“MySQL is a natural fit because as a player in the enterprise database space, it’s yet another weapon in our arsenal for us to be able to [offer a] benefit [for] our clients,” said Anthony Gold, vice president and general manager of open-source business at Unisys.
“It’s a pretty good database from a transaction-processing perspective. There’s a lot of interest out there in the community for people wanting to put together solutions around what MySQL has," Gold said. "The engine is pretty good, and we think that there’s a lot of synergy between what’s there and our database expertise to work with My SQL to put those together to meet the demands of our client base,” Gold said.

“[With] the rich services capabilities and enterprise computing expertise that we have, [we will be able] to bring that clout and that heritage to help MySQL be more enterprise-ready,” Gold added.

The move is a strategic one, building on Unisys’ support of the open-source movement.

As IT budgets remain stagnant or see cuts, IT directors and CIOs are being asked to do more with less, and in that environment, open source can benefit Unisys’ customers, Gold said.

“We’re pushing the open-source open-standards movement so that you can have that kind of movement in a services-oriented architecture environment, [and we’re] helping create a standard, services-based environment where you can model everything from your business rules to your IT infrastructure,” he said.

What makes MySQL a hot commodity for partners?

“I think it’s partly the power of open source. [Market research firm] Gartner says that if you don’t have an open-source strategy, you are competitively disadvantaged,” Mickos said. “It’s just the beginning. That’s the amazing thing. If you ask where the market is coming from, there are a lot of new applications that didn’t use databases—and a lot of new growth,” he added.

The company plans to expand its partner programs and move some components of the relationships online. It also is establishing a meeting place where partners can benefit from sharing information about services, support and MySQL deployments.

Mickos points to the exhibition floor of last month’s MySQL Users Conference, held in Santa Clara, Calif. “[Partners] met so many other potential partners that there was a cross-pollination happening between the companies. It’s good for us when they are doing well,” he said.

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