At a partnership announcement with Dell Computer in New York City back in April, Oracle (Quote, Company Info) CEO Larry Ellison stood alongside his fellow CEO Michael Dell and discussed how the Linux open source operating system was stealing market share from Microsoft's Windows products.
In the future, he asserted, Microsoft would be all but irrelevant by the Linux trend. The crowd nodded and smiled at his screed. This, you could almost hear them thinking, was Larry at his best.
But then someone in the audience took the flipside to his thesis, asking Ellison: If Linux, in all of its open-source glory, would irreparably harm Microsoft's proprietary approach, could he not see the threat of open-source database vendors to his company? Ellison said no, and then enumerated Oracle's market strength, brand, track record and high level of security as reasons for Oracle's staying power.
But while commercial database vendors remain locked in a lunge and parry fight for customers, in the background is a small movement in which providers are open-sourcing their database as a less expensive alternative to the ingrained vendors. This open-source movement, which some experts predict will follow a similar arc to Linux, is led by a Swedish firm that has been quietly building momentum as an alternative in the market for small business, departmental or commodity use: MySQL.
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