The Bitstream Blog :: Posts

The Sun Expands

On the 26th of last month, Sun Microsystems announced a significant acquisition, that of  MySQL, a developer of the most commonly used open source SQL database manager. If that previous sentence is mostly gobbledygook to you, then you can either jump over to your Facebook page and preen or, read on and learn a bit about the machinery that makes the web work. :: Let’s start with Sun, an old school geek bastion that has gone through some tough times and popped out the other side in relatively good shape. My first business trip to California was because of Sun, when I attended Solaris admin classes down in Fremont while I was working for Philips on CD-i development. Those were the days of “pizza box” Suns and my experience with industrial–strength Unix was a revelation. Kernel hacking was dangerous but fun! Anyway, Sun promoted the then novel idea that networked workstations were more cost effective than big ass mainframes which, at that time, were the de facto standard for big computing. :: MySQL, on the other hand, is a relatively young player in computing, and came to prominence as part of the (Free and) Open Source Software (FOSS) movement, where the source code, the DNA of a software product, is publicly available. To companies like Microsoft, FOSS is anathema and their FUD (fear, uncertainty, & doubt) engines have been running overtime ever since it arrived. These days, much of the Web runs on computers using a combination of OSS referred to as LAMP  (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP). Linux is an operating system, like Windows or Mac OS, and other OSS OSs are often substituted for Linux. Apache is a “web server,” the software that your web browser “talks to,” as it is now by reading this blog, while the fourth piece, PHP, is a “scripting language” used to automate web page construction. All these pieces of *AMP are OSS, with all the underlying machinery easily downloadable from the web. :: MySQL’s contribution to LAMP is the database that contains much of the “content,” the stuff we humans read, that fills a typical web page. Again, this blog is an example, being powered by BAMP; Mac OS (a BSD open source kernel under a commercial version of Unix), Apache, MySQL & PHP). You can’t swing a cat on the web without hitting an *AMP–powered web site. :: So, Sun now owns, along with their home grown Java interpreted programming language, another significant piece of the building blocks of the web. Neat trick. For those who feel that somehow MySQL is no longer “pure,” and I am not one of them, a programmer zealot can always use another OSS SQL product, PostgreSQL instead. Indeed, in some ways PostgreSQL is a more mature and robust SQL product than MySQL but, my guess is Sun will close the gap, feature–wise, within 24 months. As in the music and most other mature businesses, the consolidation trend in enterprise computing continues unabated. :: In other news, I’ve been plodding through this year’s SXSW showcase bands, listening to every single one. As in years past, lots of amazing, free music to add to your MP3 library. If any of you care, let me know and I’ll post my list of the select picks once I’m done. ’Til then, TTFN.


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