Yet another company has bought an open source company. Sun bought MySQL AB. Now if you’re up on your open source history you’ll also know that Sun started StarOffice that broke off into the open source OpenOffice. So, Sun’s no stranger to open source.
The first feeling of disgust that will probably first hit your gut is that, “Hey it’s free software. Sun is going to take it and try to monetize it.” Well, I’m sure you’ve probably calmed down by now and realized that it really is a company and they’re not a non-profit (The story here is a link to a blog post on how much is an open source company worth).
So, aside from all that… Here’s my thought. In a constant effort to best Microsoft I see a real opportunity that the corporate world can use from open source. The one thing: Microsoft Access and SQL Server now can be done with OpenOffice Base and MySQL server.
Access was one of the killer apps that make it difficult to leave the windows world totally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Microsoft hater but I do want to go to a pure Linux desktop especially in the enterprise. Say what you like but Access is a great low end database platform. It also keeps people tied into .Net, ADO, and Visual Basic. It seems that nobody even notices this primary organ in the commercial platform body.
Here’s what I think Sun should go for. Tightly integrate Base and MySQL then roll in a report writing software or just acquire a company doing that. Don’t worry, I’ve done the work for them. They should also buy or ally themselves with Jaspersoft or Datavision. The reason being, Crystal Reports. The unknown key to the empire.
If you’ve never heard of Crystal Reports then you don’t really work in a corporate setting. The majority of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Contact management software for the enterprise are printed through a seperate licensed product called Crystal Reports. Some times you could be offered the ability to buy it yourself and integrate it into the product through pre-configured links that replace the products’ bare-bones reporting software. Business Objects owns Crystal Reports and has developed a Linux server version of the software that develops reports with a watered down web based interface. SAP is the leader in ERP software and they bought Business Objects in order to own Crystal Reports which is a similar chess move. This way they stave off Oracle. In turn Oracle bought Seibel and Sleepycat software to threaten SAP and MySQL respectively.
Sun’s challenge is as follows: Make Base and MySQL drop in replacements of Access and SQL Server. Throw in reporting software and you’ve given yourself the ability to sneak into corporate environments everywhere. Digging into Microsoft and Oracle’s pockets and padding their own.
This is where Sun makes it’s money. Nobody’s buying Sun servers or Solaris (Let’s be real with ourselves). So, they sell companies on the workstations with Java on them (seeing as how both report writers run on Java as well as Windows, Linux, and Mac). Bingo! You have hardware sold, you get your foot in the server room door, and you have a drop in replacement giving companies open source with a commercial aftertaste.
Sun I don’t mind getting a little server for this grand idea and you can say it was your idea.