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The MySQL conference and Open Source

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Some of the LogicMonitor team were just up at the MySQL 2010 conference in San Jose. A good event – it was my first time there. LogicMonitor was being seen for the first time by a lot of DBAs. We generally got a great response – especially once it was realised we bring not only powerful MySQL monitoring, and automate any set up – but that we apply the same powerful, configuration free monitoring to the operating system, hardware, network, back end storage, etc, etc. (A surprising number of people seemed to expect that anything powerful must be a single product solution.)

One common observation that came up was that the conference was much smaller than previous years, both in attendees and exhibitors.  Some people lamented the new ownership of MySQL by Oracle, and the ensuing “corporatization”. I didn’t really see much evidence of that in the conference sessions or topics, however.  From the other exhibitors, however, the feeling was the set of attendees was smaller, but a better qualified set. (From the point of view of people trying to sell them .. something, but also from attendees who wanted to talk to other attendees that had tackled real problems.)  Most attendees did seem to be from not-seat-of-pants enterprises, but real companies with revenue models, and even revenue.  They also had real problems to solve, and were interested in products/solutions that addressed those problems, even if they cost money, as they realised that the costs of not addressing them were generally much higher. (In revenue costs, in staff time, in diverting resources from strategic development to solving already solved problems…)

There was still quite a lot of attendees who’s first question to us at the LogicMonitor booth was “Is it open source”?  But the fact that we are not was not a disqualification from them spending time with us – it just meant that they wanted to know what value we added over open source solutions, that would make it worth giving us money.  Something we could easily answer to (almost) everyone’s satisfaction, after we explained the time savings, the more comprehensive monitoring, the cross platform monitoring, the automation, the auto-aggregation and classification features, etc.

Perhaps MySQL being purchased by Sun, then Oracle, has to some extent meant that the young innovators that gathered around it have gone on to more Open pastures, but it may also mean that the solid base of users remaining and working with it will solve more real world problems, generate more revenue, and also be willing to spend more money to solve their own problems. Which may just lure back more of the wild innovators, once they see the opportunities are actually better than they were – cool things can still be done, but now people will pay them – which makes the doing of cool things sustainable, not just done for love. Nothing wrong with doing cool things for love AND money.

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