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Re: [HACKERS] What can we learn from MySQL?

From: Jonathan Gardner <jgardner(at)jonathangardner(dot)net>
To: "Joshua D(dot) Drake" <jd(at)commandprompt(dot)com>
Cc: PostgreSQL advocacy <pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] What can we learn from MySQL?
Date: 2004-04-29 18:41:59
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Lists: pgsql-advocacypgsql-hackerspgsql-www
On Wednesday 28 April 2004 01:38 pm, Joshua D. Drake wrote:
> >>Does anyone know of an open source project that *has* successfully
> >> displaced a market of mature, established products WITHOUT a
> >> commercial entity providing marketing, support & direction?
> >
> > gcc?
> Nope.... most big houses will use Intel/Borland/Vc++ or whatever comes
> with Solaris.
> In fact, I can not think of a single project that has displaced a
> commercial one, without market force behind it.

What happens is the software gets to a point where it is commercially 
viable, but very few realize it. Then a few daring people adopt it and 
start making money with it. Eventually, a market for that particular 
software is created, with people who use the software, people who support 
the software, and people who write the software all making money for what 
they are doing.

At this point, it becomes a market vs. market fight. What Open Source has 
proven is that when it comes to the software, having the entire marketplace 
participate in the process is much more effective than having a single 
company hold the keys to it. Our marketing plans are weak (comparatively), 
but our code is extremely robust. That's why when the game reaches this 
point, Open Source starts to win. The commercial software can't compete 
technically. Eventually, our software is so vastly superior to theirs that 
it is no contest.

Case in point: Compare the latest Windows to Linux 2.6 in a technical way. 
No contest, hands down, Linux is superior. It runs on almost any platform, 
it runs almost any software, and it has features that make Windows obselete 
as an OS. Even if Longhorn with all of the jazz was delivered tomorrow, 
Linux would still be vastly superior.

Why does it work this way? It is because with proprietary software, one 
company has to support the entire market. With open source software, the 
market supports the entire market. Open source software scales wonderfully; 
proprietary only works for small markets. Open source software markets can 
literally take over the world; proprietary software cannot.

Linux is already a huge market, complete with everything you'd need to 
evangelize, develop, and use the software. The market for PostgreSQL is 
small compared to Linux, but it is there. We have independent contractors 
and small companies doing for PostgreSQL what Red Hat and IBM are doing for 
Linux. We are seeing bigger companies join the market, and we are seeing 
daily more people joining our ranks as developers, users, and evangelizers.

The difference between PostgreSQL and MySQL is that we arrived here 
naturally, while MySQL had a jump start with the infusion of investment 
money. They are still dependent on that cash and until they can grow beyond 
it, they can't succeed like Linux. PostgreSQL has already grown to a stable 
point. The only way to go is up.

There is a saying in Korean "yong du sa mi" which means "The head of a 
dragon but the tail of a snake". The meaning is that if you start out 
really big, you end up really little. You have to build up slowly, and 
carefully, to avoid becoming just "the head of a dragon". Real dragons take 
many hundreds of years to create.

Here comes the predictions:
(1) Either MySQL becomes like us and the Linux community, or it dies. Signs 
show that this is not happening as long as it is controlled by a single 
company. You can't have a split personality like this. It's a matter of 

(2) PostgreSQL will be superior to Oracle and DB2 in the same way it is 
vastly superior to MySQL. It may not be tomorrow, but it will happen 

Jonathan Gardner

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