When Sun Microsystemsperhaps the biggest question facing the merger was the apparent culture clash. For years Sun had been a closed-source software company and the deal raised concerns within some quarters of the open-source community about how things might play out. But on Tuesday Sun sought to dispel any questions with a choreographed love-fest at the first big gathering of MySQL developers since the deal closed in January.
"So...enough of this free software stuff," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz joked during his appearance at the MySQL Conference & Expo. After getting the expected round of laughter, he quickly sought to reassure the developers attending the standing-room only gathering that Sun would continue to abide by open-source traditions.
"You want to know our secret plot? It's to serve (the open-source) community," he said. "Each one of those folks represents an opportunity for Sun.
Schwartz also went out of his way to play up similar cultural backgrounds of the 11,000 engineers working at Sun. Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, who preceded Schwartz on stage, was similarly upbeat about the development progress registered since the completion of the merger.
In particular, he noted that many more big corporations are showing interest in trying MySQL. At the same time Mickos reported that the community had reported 386 bug fixes so far this year, compared to 997 for all of 2007. In the past, there were questions about MySQL's performance in maintaining its code base.
During a break, I ran into a Sun employee who told me the question really wasn't whether Sun would change MySQL but just the reverse. "It's MySQL thats changing Sun's culture," said the employee, who didn't want to speak for attribution. "In the past, we had all these silly fights by being proprietary. But that's history."
Developers, at least so far, aren't terribly concerned about Sun's involvement.
"They seemed to have already embraced the open-source mindset for quite some time," said Eric Reeves, a developer from Houston, Texas. "I think everybody is hoping that there will not be a big change. Unless they take too violent a turn, there's too much community behind (MySQL). Sun would only be shooting itself in the foot."