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Users cautious on Red Hat's stake in EnterpriseDB

Red Hat stake in EnterpriseDB called good strategy but users say impact depends on outcome of Oracle/Sun merger and the fate of MySQL.

While industry analysts praise Red Hat's recent investment in EnterpriseDB as a solid strategic move, users expressed mixed views on the impact of Red Hat's fiscal stake in the rapidly growing, open source database company.

Tim Boyer, chief technology officer with Leavittsburg, Ohio-based-Denman Tire Corp., said the partnership would make him consider evaluating EnterpriseDB as an alternative to its long-time Cobol systems.

"We use Red Hat everywhere…and the more one-stop shopping I can do, the better," Boyer said. "One place for support for the database and the OS would make me happy."

Oracle aquisition of Sun makes users look to EnterpriseDB alternative
Denman Tire uses a little bit of MySQL, but Boyer has heard rave reports about EnterpriseDB's Postgres database and "gets very nervous" when Oracle acquires anything, said Boyer, referring to Oracle's $7.4 billion bid for Sun Microsystems Inc., which owns MySQL. The merger is currently under review by European regulators.

But Glenn Struzinski, a senior systems engineer with Boise, Idaho-based Boise Inc., said large companies aren't going to "jump ship" from one database to another any time soon, irrespective of the Red Hat/EnterpriseDB alliance.

Postgres is improving but there are many competing database vendors and it takes time and a lot of research and white papers to convince customers to make such a major change, he said.

"I doubt our database administrators even know about this," Struzinski said. "I doubt they would change from Oracle just because Red Hat purchased EnterpriseDB."

Craig Bogovich, a solutions architect from Wellesley, Mass.-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care who attended an EnterpriseDB workshop at the Red Hat Summit, said the key is not the Red Hat/EnterpriseDB partnership but what Oracle does with MySQL after the Sun acquisition. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's commitment to MySQL at the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference was encouraging, he said.

EnterpriseDB and MySQL
EnterpriseDB says Postgres database can save users money

Will Oracle sell MySQL?

Red Hat embraces Postgres database
EnterpriseDB, a 5-year-old, venture-backed company in Westford, Mass., is offering commercial support for free, open source Postgres database software and has acquired several hundred paying customers but has yet to earn a profit. While admitting that MySQL is currently more popular, EnterpriseDB contends that its database is more robust than MySQL and a lot cheaper than proprietary alternatives.

Red Hat officials declined to elaborate on their reasons for investing in EnterpriseDB other than CEO Jim Whitehurst's official statement that "EnterpriseDB has clearly established itself as a leading enterprise Postgres company… and is working to create customer value through a subscription support model."

Richard Jones, vice president of the Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, said Whitehurst hinted at an analyst event a month ago that "MySQL had no more life left" after the open source database was acquired by Sun in 2008; consequently, Whitehurst told Jones that Red Hat "would be going in a different direction," the analyst said.

"Strategically, it's a good move for Red Hat to go with something other than MySQL with so many question marks raised by the Oracle/Sun acquisition," Jones said.

Jones added that he hoped Red Hat would help users convert data structures from MySQL to Postgres formats following Red Hat's partnership with EnterpriseDB.

Matt Asay, author of the cnet Open Road blog, welcomed Red Hat's investment in EnterpriseDB as a welcome turn-around from its former isolation and an opportunity for it to nurture the growth of the open source community as a whole.

"Red Hat's investment in EnterpriseDB says more about Red Hat's increasing awareness of its larger role in the open source ecosystem than it does of any competition with MySQL," Asay blogged. "It's about time."

The new partnership dovetails with Red Hat's strategy of commoditizing key infrastructure components, Asay blogged, apparently referring to Red Hat's previous acquisitions of JBoss (the application server) and Qumranet Inc. (the KVM hypervisor). The new partnership implies that Red Hat is gearing up to provide "real competition" in the database industry, which currently is "ripe for disruption," he wrote.

Craig Mullins, vice president data strategy with Sugar Land, Texas-based Neon Enterprise Software, said partnerships are commonplace but Red Hat's decision to put money on the line hints that this could be a significant affiliation, particularly in light of the pending Oracle/Sun acquisition.

However, relative adoption of the two rival open source databases will depend more on Oracle's future plans for MySQL than Red Hat's investment in EnterpriseDB, Mullins predicted. There are rumors that Oracle may offer a combination of Unbreakable Linux OS (Red Hat Enterprise Linux, rebranded) and MySQL database, which might make some sense following the Oracle/Sun merger, he said.

The bottom line to users is that investments by major players like IBM (which also invested in EnterpriseDB), Red Hat and Oracle in open source database companies will ensure a healthy marketplace and strong development communities, he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Leah Rosin, Site Editor .

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