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Is Oracle recruiting MySQL software into its empire? April 24, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, enterprise software, human resources, Oracle, recruiting software, Sun.
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With Oracle’s recent $7.38 billion dollar buyout of Sun Microsystems, some new product recipes are bound to end up on the fattened company’s revisited menu.   New head chef Larry Ellison is now directing the flavor of Sun’s software products, and some people are concerned for possible drastic changes, especially during this economic recession and the necessity for Oracle to bring in new channels of revenue.  One possible change-of-course could be converting Sun’s incredibly popular MySQL to a pay-for Software, which would bring thousands of businesses and software developers to their feet in protest.

MySQL software allows people and companies alike to access and manage their website databases.  MySQL is open source software, which means people can download it free of charge as well as access and contribute to the software’s code.   To date, there have been over 11 million installations of the product, including high profile use by companies like Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.  In the past, Sun has only marginally monetized MySQL through paid offerings like software updates and extended product support.

Ellison and Oracle could tap into the huge MySQL userbase as a new profit channel by converting it to enterprise software – charging customers through a licensing fee .   This could simultaneously provide a gargantuan influx of revenue to Oracle, as well as alienate millions of open-source customers who currently rely on the software.  It seems like a drastic strategy, however, the current economic recession could call for Oracle’s management to search for extreme ways to prepare for future leaks in revenue.  Although Oracle has so far remained relatively unscathed by the economic depression, their buyout of Sun is clearly forward thinking to potential future hardships.

Ellison has been known to be quite the staunch competitor and would not necessarily let the alienation of current MySQL users deter him from a new business opportunity.   With a net worth of approximately $27 billion, Ellison has been known for his hard-nosed leadership, obsession with Samurai warrior culture, and refusal to take ‘no’ as an answer.  Whether it be a whale-sized luxury yacht, an unwelcome company buyout, or a change to MySQL’s monetization strategy- he most often gets what he wants.  Ellison was most aptly personified during Oracle’s hostile takeover of human resource and recruiting software company PeopleSoft in 2004, jokingly saying he’d shoot opposing CEO Craig Conway (rather than his dog).

Converting MySQL into a paid enterprise service may not be the best move for Oracle,  as there are several other open source competitors that current MySQL users could jump to.   PostrgreSQL is one such alternative that may welcome a MySQL paid solution, as they would surely gain a large customer influx.

Although transforming MySQL into a paid enterprise service would certainly push a large portion of the current userbase away, there would also be some who would likely stay with the service, even if meant a fee.   Many MySQL users have a brand affiliation with the software as well as a deep familiarity with utilizing it.

It is pretty uncertain what would happen if Ellison and Oracle took MySQL in this new direction- although during the current times, anything is possible.

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