The acquisition of MySQL AB puts Sun directly in the center of the Open Source business community, making it an alternate solution to the three big proprietary monsters: IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft, and delivering a nice blow to Red Hat in the mean time. It also positions Sun as a top dog in the acquisition of other open-source companies, depending of course upon how well Sun does with the absorption of MySQL.
Another good effect of the merger is all of the money being thrown into open-source, which can only be good for the community. Sun should benefit well from the hard-working MySQL team, and we will hopefully see some new open-source ventures on the horizon. The acquisition also adds another notch of legitimacy to open source as a whole, proving that in addition to innovative, collective coding, open source can also lead to solid financials as well. For a company earning a revenue of about $50 million dollars a year, a $1 billion dollar buy-out is no laughing matter.
Finally, Sun officially joins the ranks as one of the three big open-source vendors, which include Red Hat (who recently acquired Jboss) and Yahoo. Where this places Oracle, who has close ties to Sun and who tried to acquire MySQL themselves in 2006, is unknown. The acquisition certainly deals a blow to Oracle, who acquired two smaller open-source database companies, Sleepycat and InnoDB back in 2005.
In addition, Sun has a sizeable investment in PostgreSQL, and the effects on that are also up in the air.
The acquisition by Sun is the largest for an open-source company to date. It follows on the heels of a busy few years of open-source buying. In 2006 Red Hat acquired JBoss for a nice chunk of change ($400 million), also spoiling the plans of Oracle who were considering purchasing the company themselves. In 2007 we saw the purchase of Zimbra by Yahoo for $350 million, and the XenSource purchase by Citrix Systems for $500 million dollars.
If the Sun/MySQL deal is any indication, and the heads of Sun assure us it is, this is just the beginning of a potential buying spree. It will be interesting to see what other companies Sun acquires in the upcoming years, and to see if they can actually position themselves to be a threat to the Axis of Propriety. Only time will tell...