I was with a customer last week, who leads technology and operations for one of the world’s largest companies. We were talking through his priorities for the upcoming year, and on a page filled with various traditional priorities (consolidation, energy management, disaster recovery, regulatory compliance) were two interesting words.
I asked what that meant, why it was there. He said they’d done an audit of the firm’s development activities, and found an overwhelming number (“hundreds”) of open source
projects that had been completed behind the scenes, beyond management’s oversight. The projects were designed to solve problems deemed too expensive or difficult to solve with proprietary technologies – from meeting a tough budget, to automating a new process. And rather than fight the trend, they figured it was delivering real benefit, something to explore more fully. And they were asking for Sun’s help.
I’m seeing this with nearly every customer I meet, the invisible hand of open source – communities of individuals equally devoted to their employers, and to personal and peer productivity. These communities, within companies as well as across industries, are solving problems without having to involve procurement (while religiously adhering to policies surrounding privacy, intellectual property protection and software licensing). They’re delivering unquestionable value.
Now, is unprescribed technology usage all that unusual in the workplace? I don’t think so – it’s similar to choosing your favorite search engine or social network, choices we all make (even CIO’s) without purchase orders, that definitely bear on workplace productivity. Most progressive CIO’s are trying to embrace this trend rather than fight it, figuring out how they can mandate as little as possible, not as much as possible – selecting only the most critical policies and standards to drive efficiency or compliance.
The invisible hand of open source adoption is definitely changing IT, and it’s changing Sun’s market opportunity – in software, servers and storage systems. Before Sun acquired them, MySQL had already established themselves among the world’s open source communities, and invisibly penetrated an enormous breadth of companies across the world. From where I sit, the acquisition changed MySQL’s standing not so much among developers, but among traditional technology decision makers – by bridging the divide that separated them. A well adopted product became a safe choice for enterprise deployment. The acquisition opened new doors and business dialog – we’ve seen a substantive increase in sales and download activity since it was announced. We’ve also seen a fair number of CIO’s, as above, asking their teams – “where are we using MySQL?” The answers are always interesting.
As those conversations transition to sales cycles for MySQL Enterprise subscriptions (for those seeking mission crtiical support, eg), the number one question I get asked by traditional customers has become… “…but does MySQL scale?”
And there’s no better way of putting that question to rest than citing the global businesses powered by MySQL – at least one of which is often used by the very individual asking the question: LinkedIn. Click here to read how Sun and LinkedIn are working together to serve one of the world’s largest, most valuable, and fastest growing social networks – at truly global scale.
At the pace LinkedIn is growing, they will be managing services to far more accounts than most of the world’s banks… and building exceptional value along the way. (And if you haven’t signed up yet, you really ought to…)