Last Wednesday I attended a very interesting keynote given by Marten Mickos entitled "Scale Out". Here's a few gems that I gleaned from it: He stated that the survivors of the dot com era built their infrastructure on top of open source (and mentioned Yahoo, Google and eBay as examples).
Standardization is a growth forumla for any industry. As compoments such as databases standardize it allows for growth in volume (those who couldn't afford a database now can). The surge of new buyers allows and enables those users to innovate and create new applications. He didn't really define what he meant by standardization (SQL Standard?). Big companies selling expensive software are afraid of standardization.
He made an analogy with the GPL and a Swedish term and idea. I didn't write down the term but the idea was that anyone in Sweden is free to use any empty land (or even land purchased by others, even if the owner has put up a fence). But when someone wants to do certain things (such as hunt, build a fire or house) on the land they must pay the owner. An interesting analogy for their dual licensing scheme.
Marten explained the ratio of users to contributers to paying customers (1000 to 10 to 1). He said they were his Marketing, Product and Sales department respectively, and that MySQL was perfectly happy with that ratio as it was allowing them to be profitable and grow. He then stated a law he called "Geoffrey Moores" law (the guy who wrote Crossing the Chasm) that every 18 months the users of opensource doubles. (I'm not sure I buy that one but it sounds nice).
Marten said there are two types of users, community users and customers. Community people are willing to spend time to save money. And customers will spend money to save time. MySQL supports and enables both of those users, and it is a fine line to provide extra value to those paying customers without causing the community to become disenfranchised. He said that Moore had also recently expounded (at OSBC?) on the 4 types of cultures: cultivation (Google), Competition (MS), Collaboration (OpenSource) and Control (IBM). I didn't really follow that point, if anyone can clear that up go ahead.
The 3 priorities for MySQL are 1) Performance 2) Reliability and 3) Ease of use. He indicated that this explained MySQLs position in the market (web dbs versus enterprise dbs, but that they were progressing in the enterprise arena). One of his final analogies was that MySQL was the JetBlue of databases. If you want to fly business class you can use DB2, Oracle or SQL Server, but most people don't need/have to fly business class. All in all it was pretty interesting, though I'm still not sure what scaling out is.