MySQL and Sun – Oportunity for smaller companies ?

Reading Martens interview we see the quite:

“As soon as the deal closed we immediately secured a big deal with a major European national police agency,” said Mickos, now SVP database products at Sun. “Key to them choosing MySQL was that we are now part of a much larger public corporation. The deal wouldn’t have happened when we were private.”

Cool stuff! But I’m wondering how much the opposite applies as well – this would leave small companies to seek for other ways to get the service they need ?

As company gets ready to server higher end customers it often “moves up the stack” and fails to deal with needs of lower end customers. This especially applies to Professional Service Companies.

Let me give you an example
This shows how MySQL Support Prices looked back in the end of 1999. As you can see you could get basic support for just 170 EUR a year and get extended support for 5000 EUR/year, and this is not the price per server – you could use this support for as many servers as you wanted.

Besides price being very low you have been getting support from Monty himself or handful of other people and at least Monty would read all replies and correct if there are any omissions. Also if you found a bug Monty would normally have a fix for you within an hours and roll it into next release which would be few days/weeks away. If you happen to have a repeatable test case you would likely get a fix from mailing list anyway within similar time frame.

Over years things have changed both from pricing standpoint and quality standpoint – MySQL Support is still very good compared to many larger vendors but it is not Monty any more – not as competent and not as uniform quality. Plus it takes much longer time to have fixes if you have found a bug.

Now, do not get me wrong this is normal and expected – to get same level of service as 8 years ago you would need to clone Monty 1000 times and still get into trouble because codebase became much larger and more complicated for one person to know all the code. It is quite natural but it still can hurt.

Though standard packaged services are not the main problem dealing with large companies. You can go online and buy support for your single server and use it to solve most of your problems quickly.

In my experience as small business owner the problem tends to happen when you either get some problems or need something custom ? How easily are top decision makers are available and how much time they can dedicate to you ? Typically the larger company gets the harder it is to get through and actually make things done and more money you need to get some true attention.

For example I have comments from the customers having hard time getting any serious attention from MySQL Sales Team with orders less than $10000.

Another thing I remember we tend to joke about during early MySQL years is how much it would cost to approach Oracle and make them to implement custom feature which would go in the main server ? We’re probably speaking millions while MySQL could have these done for thousands or tens of thousands in some cases.

As MySQL merge with Sun progresses I do not expect it will become easier for small companies to get custom treatment from them, get their fixes prioritized or get custom development at low cost. This is not how large companies work – if you’re small company you can get commodity services relatively simple for relatively good price but if you want special treatment you’ve got to pay a lot of Money ūüôā

These all are good news for smaller companies like Percona, Pythian, Proven Scaling, Open Query. All of these companies should offer more personal professional services than MySQL and would be more open to customize services. All by Pythian are also lead by seasoned MySQL experts – it helps a lot in many cases when decision makers are technically savvy to fully understand problems to the full depth.

UPDATE: Reponding to Paul and Sherri comments I’m not questioning level of MySQL Expertise Pythian provide I am just pointing out to MySQL background of CEO of the companies mentioned.

Some of these companies may also be faster to fix your MySQL issues – at Percona we do a lot of work with performance analyzes and Scaling. Proven Scaling is well known for contributing SHOW PROFILE patch and gets bug fixed for their customers.

So I agree with Marten – the deal with Sun is great news for MySQL and will steer a lot of large fish in MySQL nets, it is also great news for us, smaller service companies, enjoying dealing with smaller customers and having business models and systems to handle small deals efficiently.

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Comments (10)

  • Sheeri

    Peter, you say “All by Pythian are also lead by seasoned MySQL experts”

    Pythian has over 60 DBAs and while there are many seasoned Oracle experts, I can tell you firsthand that there are seasoned MySQL and SQL Server experts as well. The teams that support MySQL are led by seasoned MySQL experts.

    April 4, 2008 at 6:16 am
  • Paul Vallee

    Hi Peter,

    I completely agree with your sentiment above. I was pretty jazzed about the sun/mysql deal on day one, and I definitely see that the ecosystem will grow as a result of it, big deals as well as small. So basically, I’m with you on that one. I don’t mean to appear defensive, but I do take issue with the idea that Pythian’s isn’t led by seasoned MySQL leadership. What am I, chopped liver? ūüôā I hope you don’t mind if I share some Pythian trivia to set your mind at ease.

    Pythian was founded in 1997. If you go to and look up, you will see that I was popularizing an offsite delivery model for database architecture, consulting and infrastructure management before anyone. We literally had to bundle internet connectivity with our offering in order to sign some early deals since most companies did not have Internet at that time. The thing is, this type of delivery model requires a lot of fine-tuning to work well, which I’m sure you are discovering at Percona (or will shortly). So we have a bit of a head start on that piece.

    Our services for MySQL launched in 2002. I made this decision myself because I have been an open-source advocate since since time immemorial and there was evident customer demand (in 2002 our customer base was predominantly online media, we have diversified a ton since then though). Anyway, 2002 was very early in the MySQL services world, I would go so far to say that there were very few people worldwide who considered themselves MySQL DBAs proper at that time. We were among them.

    Today, we have 25 customers (out of our total of 110 or so) that are MySQL customers, including all of CBS, Electronic Arts, Forbes Media and Fox Interactive Media as active customers (not to mention VideoEgg, Sling Media, VUDU, and lots of other fun shops you might have heard of). All of those happily paid a Pythian invoice this month.

    Our two Mysql team leads are Sheeri Cabral (everyone knows Sheeri) and Augusto Bott (while not everyone knows Augusto, he led MySQL infrastructure for Brazil’s most heavily trafficked employment portal, Catho Online, before joining us about a year ago. These are not hacks or rookies.

    These two teams report to one of our service delivery managers, Rob Hamel, who has been doing MySQL architecture at Internet scale since we launched our services in 2002. I would compare this team with confidence team to any in any company worldwide.

    So I’m not sure exactly what kind of “seasoning” you have in mind when you exclude us. Come on, throw me a bone here Peter. ūüôā

    Cheers and best wishes,


    April 4, 2008 at 6:53 am
  • peter


    When I wrote this I meant companies rather than Teams. How important is it what the _company_ head is technical and has deep MySQL background ? I think one should decide for himself, same as if it is important for company to be focused on MySQL or support variety of products.

    April 4, 2008 at 1:54 pm
  • peter


    Please see above. I am not questioning the level of MySQL knowledge your teams have. This is not the point. I’m speaking about companies rather than MySQL teams in this case. Unless I missed something yourself you’re not MySQL expert and MySQL Services were not what your company has started with.

    I am not saying it is bad I’m simply stating it as a fact.

    I can see many cases when your business and cross database background is actually a big win. You likely understand business issues better and can speak to larger accounts their own language as well as help them with their cross database installations. In case of Percona, OpenQuery or Proven Scaling you can get very technical talk with CEO itself.

    Why I _personally_ value it ? Because I dealt with significant amount of companies when I could not get what I need from the engineer and upper level decision makers did not have a technical knowledge to fully understand the problem.

    April 4, 2008 at 2:05 pm
  • Sheeri Cabral


    The problem is that you are stating facts that are not correct. Firstly, the structure at Pythian is very flat and cooperative — if you can’t get what you need from one engineer, there are other engineers to help. Secondly, as Paul has stated, in the rare case that you would need to go to the CEO, he *is* well-versed in MySQL. True, he was not a MySQL employee as yourself or Jeremy was, but really you’re just being elitist, and that’s completely unfair to Pythian.

    With over 60 DBAs, I can assure you that supporting 3 different databases is not an issue — there are some DBAs who want to support more than one type of database, and others who don’t. I am 100% MySQL, and only work with clients who have MySQL databases. So the leadership is not *diluted* at all, as you imply.

    You are misinformed and are giving misleading statements. You do not appreciate it when folks make misleading comments about MySQL when they are misinformed, so I’d appreciate it if you could recognize when you make the same, unintentional, mistake.

    April 4, 2008 at 8:47 pm
  • Sheeri Cabral

    Also, I would appreciate it if you could get my name correct. It’s spelled “Sheeri”, not “Sherri”. I’d hope you’d have paid enough attention to detail to have realized that in the 30 months I’ve been an active community member. It’s usually not a big deal, but I really feel like you have a general lack of respect and an air of superiority about you, and for whatever reason it bothers me that you cannot be bothered to spell my name properly.

    April 4, 2008 at 8:50 pm
  • peter


    Sorry. You might have noticed I do plenty of errors when I type. I understand one would not like name misspelled so I went ahead and corrected it. Sorry again.

    April 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm
  • peter


    Honestly I do not understand why you get offended so much and why do you see some superiority feel about myself ? I mentioned all top companies which I know provide MySQL Services and I mentioned Pythian, your employer among them.
    I chose to mention some of them are founded by seasoned MySQL experts and Pythian is not ? So what ? We can also say Proven Scaling and Pythian is lead by native English Speakers and Open Query and Percona are not. So ?

    Seriously when I started writing I wanted to write all of the listed companies lead by Seasoned MySQL Experts but I like to be correct to be best of my knowledge and I can’t call Paul himself the one. Paul is great guy and hires great People like you, but it does not make Him MySQL expert. This is how it become “all but Pythian”.

    Again Sorry guys if I insulted you. I would not get into even longer discussion of what I meant and how. Again please understand the phase in original blog post was to keep it correct at my level of understanding and not to say services provided by Pythian are subpar

    April 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm
  • Paul Vallee

    Hi Peter,
    Don’t worry, I am much harder than that to insult. I just wanted to point out the my roots with MySQL are not that shallow; Pythian’s services for MySQL launched the same year you joined MySQL in 2002. That’s all.
    If your point was that as the CEO I am not also Pythian’s leading MySQL expert, well, that’s true to be sure. But I think if Percona continues to be as successful as it has been of late (congrats!) it won’t be true for long for you either.

    April 5, 2008 at 5:09 am
  • peter

    Thanks Paul,

    I surely understand. If Percona continues to grow I would either need to get less involved in technical questions and so loose a grip or keep technical and hire CEO to run the company. In either case thinks would be different.
    A lot of things have changed already since the time We started – I spend much more time supervising, training etc than being first contact to handle the case.

    April 5, 2008 at 9:21 am

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