Widespread corporate adoption of Web-based applications is a sure bet for the future, and that future will also bring a more scalable and user-friendly MySQL, said MySQL AB CEO Marten Mickos.
In part two of our conversation with him, Mickos discusses those trends, as well as the pitiful state of e-mail applications today and MySQL's changing user base. In part one, he predicted that partnerships with proprietary systems and software vendors are the key to putting open source on the corporate IT map.
Now that MySQL 5.0 has been officially released, what's on the drawing board for MySQL enhancements?
Marten Mickos: Building other features that make it more scalable, durable and easy to use. We shouldn't underestimate the need for more tools for analytics and searching of data.
What new technology trends should IT directors prepare for today?
Mickos: They should find out about the new way for enterprise IT to be run: on Web-enabled or Web-based applications, not the old client-server style. They should look at the early pioneers in this area, the most successful and profitable companies in the technology sector. They're the online service providers that run on open source: Google, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay.
Experts have told me that corporate e-mail will be one of the first widely adopted, Web-based applications. Do you agree?
Mickos: E-mail might be the most mission-critical application in today's businesses, and today's e-mail solutions are crappy. There are no really good e-mail programs, because they are so primitive.
I'm amazed that mankind hasn't been able to create more advancements in e-mail. They look nicer today, but they're no better than the ones we used 10 years ago. They don't help you organize the data or distinguish between an e-mail that is a to-do for yourself, a to-do for somebody else, an instruction or an approval.
There are hundreds of e-mails in your box, and you, with your own brain, must sort out what they are there for. It's absurd that e-mail programs can't sort messages and make it easier for you. Where's the automated archiving and quick-search and all of those things?
The irony is that e-mail was supposed to be an unobtrusive form of communication!
Look at Scalix and what Mitch Kapoor [at Mozilla] are doing, and you'll see that there is innovation happening in this space, finally.
Back to MySQL: Will MySQL 5.0 change MySQL's user demographics?
Mickos: This change does not just relate to 5.0. We started as an open source database for Web users. We've been expanding our footprint in the market ever since. There's a constant influx of new types of users. With 5.0 we have many more enterprise users coming in.
There's the idea that a new product in the marketplace, as MySQL once was, would be first used by small companies. Our first customers, however, were companies with in-house software development. So, it wasn't so much a question of the size of the company, as it was what kind of in-house development expertise the company had. Therefore, we have huge companies like Bank of America that use MySQL and small companies using it, too. The last ones that start using MySQL are so small that they lack the software insights and in-house skills that others have.
So is it difficult for customers with no in-house development skills to use MySQL?
Mickos: They do use MySQL, but they usually use it as part of a packaged application. That's how we're breaking into those markets.
Speaking of breaking into the marketplace, why haven't commercial open source product vendors, including MySQL, made greater use of the VAR/system integrator channel? That's how IT vendors have usually established themselves in the business marketplace.
Mickos: There has been a lack of systems integrators who are experts in Linux and open source. However, I see a trend toward businesses and systems integrators hiring Linux and open source experts, mostly straight out of college.
Also, system integrators are not known as the most leading-edge players in the industry. Their competitiveness comes out of serving customers with things that have worked before, not bringing in new, untested things.
There's an unused potential in the local consultant or systems integrators. Building strength in that area is a focus for us.