Wednesday, March 23, 2011

switch to non-OSI says exec

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You work in a company that produces great GPL software. A new injection of finance or perhaps some merger / acquisition activity has brought a new executive to the team.

That Exec claims that your financial future depends on switching your codebase, or all future contributions to being a non-OSI license.


Training, Consultancy, Integration, Performance Optimisation:

None of these things require you to actually 'sell' a commercial variant of your software.

There are many 'truly open' CMS software platforms and now many 'truly open' ERP platforms

To suggest that you cannot build a successful business, without first adopting a non-OSI license is just nonsense.

How much does Oracle make each year in Database and Middleware Training?
How much does Oracle make each year in Database and Middleware Consulting?
How much does Oracle make each year in Database and Middleware Integration?
How much does Oracle make each year in Database and Middleware Optimisation?

Buckets, and it has very little to do with the code being open or closed.
It is just that they are experts, with access to the best developers for that database product, and probably do the training, consulting, and integration well.

Open Source Oracle under GPL tomorrow, and Oracle would lose license revenue yes, and they would feel some increased competition in Training, Consulting, Integration, Optimisation, however each of those areas would still be a healthy source of revenue.

A good portion of what Oracle sells these days is application layers that work on top of that database. (Payroll, Human Resources, Financials, Electronic Purchasing, ERP)

Oracle would still make buckets of profit.

Why would Oracle not do this? Because it has Senior Execs that just cannot operate outside of the 'everyone is the opposition, crush the opposition' mode.
( Destroy them or take them over Bob. )

Most of your revenue coming from pure Software Licensing is an outdated model. The winds of change are blowing at Microsoft also, probably getting out of pure Software and into Data, as it's ageing Execs are replaced with modern managers.

Most of the big name 'new businesses' will not engage with the old guard of 'pure Software Licensing' because it is a stacked deck. So they employ young graduates, who can mashup technologies where the apis are royalty free and unrestricted*, to create dynamic systems.

*My interpretation of unrestricted would exclude all of the following:
  • Partial API access with a protected 'Enterprise' variant.
  • Partial grants of exemption from patents.
  • Patent grants to individual partners*
*These usually have NDAs, or other secret negotiation requirements that a 'new business' would do well to avoid.
If company A is negotiating to give your company a patent exemption, whilst excluding company C, think ahead to the days of a weaker working partnership, where you might be the excluded because company C is about to deliver something more shiney.

I have not heard of a single example of the new 'social media' giants using a database from that pure Software Licensing old guard.

Twitter, Facebook, et al are based on database technologies that do not come with a per seat or per socket traditional licenses.
(They need massive scale, and are more likely to use code which they can have a 50% hand in optimisation, than relying purely on vendor expertise.)

In a warehouse sized datacentre, the last thing a 'social media' giant wants, is to have to employ some bod going round, counting 1U and 2U servers to make sure Oracle or Microsoft, get an unnecessary per socket / per seat database license.

As a social media startup, would you want your datacentre raided because some third party vendor funded agent, needs assurance that every 1U and 2U has the right sticker?


But what about Youtube? Wasn't that based on non-GPL databases?

Todays vacancy announcement - Mountain view, CA or San Bruno, CA

Seems that Drizzle, Maria, MySQL are all in the mix for what Google has planned going forward:

An Extract:
Perform benchmarking by understanding merits of the various MySQL forks/distros, choosing through real testing and analysis, then maintaining builds.

Had MySQL been switched to a non-OSI license by Sun, then Drizzle and Maria and Youtube future strategy would not read as it does.
( Google would simply have picked another open source 'winner' to work with, or hired the ex MySQLers after they departed Sun for a new creation. )

Another Extract:
MySQL and Linux experience required. IO tuning experience preferred.
Here MySQL (and derivatives) plus Linux, are both GPL licensed elements of the software stack.


Is there good business in Training, Consultancy, Integration, Optimisation for Drizzle and Maria?


Yes there is and, i suspect, it will be an important element of their business plan in the next 3 years.

If you are an expert in those things, are you going to be able to sell that to Google?
Probably not, Google will just hire you instead.

However there are hundreds of other companies for whom, MySQL purely as an 'upsell opportunity' for Oracle, seems against their future direction.

Future opportunities for Training, Consultancy, Integration, Optimisation, events that might be significant:
  • Drizzle and Maria gain greater acceptance with successful production deployments
  • Oracle end their '3 year commitment' to MySQL original codebase, and set companies on the 'upselling' treadmill
  • Microsoft moving further into Consumer devices, cloud, and data, at the expense of enterprise software.
Source: Nasdaq
Microsoft is spending some 70% of its $ 9.5 billion R&D budget on cloud computing.
It seems clear that the money is now following the new business, rather than the traditional enterprise products such as SQL Server.


Links and Further Reading:

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