What’s the future for OpenOffice and MySQL?


On April 20, Sun Microsystems agreed to be purchased by Oracle (http://www.sun.com/third-party/global/oracle/).

Oracle is the leader in heavy-duty relational database systems. Sun Microsystems has overseen two popular software products: OpenOffice (an excellent free alternative to Microsoft Office); and MySQL, a relational database with over 6 million installations. Both OpenOffice and MySQL are open source products, meaning that for all practical purposes they are available to users at no cost. In practice, most organizations either purchase support contracts or hire IT staff to provide support. MySQL has won wide acceptance since its creation in 1996. Heavy-hitters Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Nokia, and YouTube are built upon MySQL database engines.


Wither MySQL?
MySQL has steadily grown into a heavy-duty product that poses a potential threat to Oracle. The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of MySQL is about one-sixteenth of the TCO for Oracle: http://www.mysql.com/tcosavings/  I had feared that Oracle, if allowed by the US Department of Justice to control MySQL, would find a way to kill MySQL.

One of the creators of MySQL, a Finnish programmer named Ulf Michael Widenius (nickname Monty), recently left Sun Microsystems and formed a company called Monty Program AB (http://askmonty.org/). Read Monty’s blog: http://monty-says.blogspot.com/  Monty has also recently formed the Open Database Alliance http://opendatabasealliance.com/

It appears that Monty’s moves — effectively forking the development of MySQL — will pull the rug out from under Oracle’s purchase of MySQL, should the DOJ approve the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle.


Wither OpenOffice?
Release 3.1 of OpenOffice was just published a few weeks ago. I hope that its development continues. There’s no love lost between Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison and Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates, so my hope is that Mr. Ellison will provide the resources necessary to keep OpenOffice a strong competitor to Microsoft Office.

Both futures look good
The conclusion? If we’re lucky, both OpenOffice and MySQL will continue to thrive, despite Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems.

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