Thursday, April 17, 2008

Is Anyone Really Surprised by Sun?

News from the MySQL Conference indicates that Sun will be adding some new features only to MySQL Enterprise, and not the more common (and open-source) MySQL Community. Is anyone really surprised by this?

Google does it with Google Apps vs. GMail. Sun is already doing this with StarOffice vs. OpenOffice. Red Hat has been doing it for quite some time now with Red Hat Enterprise Linux vs. Fedora. InnoBase, now owned by Oracle, does it with InnoDB HotBackup vs. InnoDB. There are countless other examples out there too.

And the reasoning is pretty simple - at the end of the day, we all need to get paid. Even within the open source community, people have bills. We might all like to be idealists and work on a project just because we enjoy it, but that isn't going to put clothes on your back or keep your house warm during the winter. You still need to find a way to make some money.

Google, Sun, Red Hat and Oracle need to make money too. The way to do that is by actually charging for what they do instead of giving it all away. If the free product is "good enough" for your situation, you are in luck. But if you are after more advanced features, then you probably have a real business need for the product and should understand having to pay for it.

It's much like transportation. You can get anywhere you want for free by walking or swimming. But if you need or want to get to your destination faster, easier or maybe with more luggage, then you are going to need to pay in some fashion to take a car, bus, train, plane or boat.

Sun's move should not be unexpected to anyone. It doesn't mean they are evil, it just means they live in the real world.

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