– MySQL: A threat to bigwigs? – Mar. 12, 2003

Open-source database has dazzling opportunities ahead

By David Kirkpatrick


Wednesday, March 12, 2003 Posted: 4:13 PM EST (2113 GMT)

(FORTUNE.COM) — Talking last week with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, took me back to the golden days of 1999. Here was a fresh-faced, unbelievably enthusiastic CEO, raving about the future prospects of his product, just like so many executives I met back in those unreal times. But Mickos has a very real opportunity. The open-source movement has become a major factor across the software industry, and MySQL is the world’s most popular open-source database.

In contrast to typical commercial software, open-source products have their underlying programming code available for all to see and modify. The products are also free or close to it, which, needless to say, helps them grow rapidly if they’re good. MySQL is used in four million installations around the world, Mickos estimates. The product gets downloaded for free off the company’s site about 30,000 times a day. And here’s what Sun CEO Scott McNealy said in a February interview with Computerworld: “If you want to save…money, make the default database MySQL. It’s free, it’s bundled [with Sun’s Solaris software], you’ve got the whole open-source community working on making it better. If Yahoo and Google can run their entire operations on MySQL, then certainly there’s a huge chunk of your operations that could run on it as well.”

McNealy slightly exaggerated the Yahoo and Google stuff, but both companies do use MySQL extensively. I e-mailed so-called “Technical Yahoo” Jeremy Zawodny, who replied: “We use it all over the place-for batch feed processing in Yahoo Classifieds and Yahoo Finance, to serve live content in Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance, and even in some billing systems. Our usage continues to grow.”

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