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Virgin Mobile goes MySQL Enterprise: One innovator chooses another

The open-source database is selected by an innovator in the telecom industry: Virgin Mobile. Who will be next to go open source?

Richard Branson is one to go against the grain, and usually to good effect. He has built a major business empire by taking chances on innovation.

Small wonder, then, that his company Virgin Mobile has selected MySQL to manage a critical component of its business: SMS messaging. According to MySQL's release on Thursday:

Over 500GB [of SMS data] are contained in MySQL data tables, and subject to thousands of queries per second. This solution handles the processing of Virgin Mobile's SMS messaging--where each individual text message can generate over 100 database queries on average (analysis, processing the response, and annual statistics)....[Using MySQL and LAMP]...ensures the operator a significant return on investment compared with a proprietary system.

Virgin Mobile could have chosen MySQL's Community product for this, but it recognizes that mission-critical applications generally require a real company behind them. Hence, the decision to go with MySQL Enterprise. Evaluating MySQL was free; going into serious production for free would be less intelligent.

This is the tip of the telecom iceberg for MySQL. Telecoms can't afford to waste money on expensive proprietary infrastructure. (Having said that, can anyone really afford to waste money anymore in today's competitive marketplaces? Nope.) On this point Zack Urlocker, MySQL's executive vice president of products and resident hippie says:

[I]t's interesting to see some of the industry disruptors, like Virgin Mobile, use open source as part of their business strategy...If you're going to expand your market and your infrastructure, open source is really the only option. Otherwise your infrastructure costs prevent you from doing what you need to do in order to be competitive. Who wants to pay a "success penalty" where your infrastructure costs go up 50K in license fees per CPU?

MySQL has nabbed the innovator in the group. It will increasingly work its way toward the late adopters. Game over at that point for the proprietary competition. At least in telecom. Then it's on to the rest of the market.