back to article Michael Howard: Embrace of open source is destroying 'artificial definitions' of legacy vendors

Michael Howard, Berkley grad and alumnus of Oracle and EMC, took the helm at open-source biz MariaDB almost three years ago. Reflecting on how things have changed, he reckons the biggest shift is in how both investors and enterprise have embrace open-source. Now, he has an IPO on his mind. In an interview with El Reg, Howard …

  1. bombastic bob Silver badge

    how to monetize open source

    that's the real question here. usually it's in "value added something", from support to consulting to customization and maybe hats or T shirts and an official binary image on a DVD. But yeah, monetizing open source is definitely the way to go if you can manage doing it, then keep it open and everybody wins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how to monetize open source

      IPO, then sell it to a deep pockets company, enjoy them money, fork it, rinse and repeat...

      Maybe there are less gullible companies like Sun around, but never put boundaries to stupidity...

  2. DropBear

    "you can’t just say ‘jump off a cliff onto new ground’; you have to give them a bride"

    I heard budget-conscious procurement might want to check out Russian opportunities for that...

    1. Jim Mitchell

      You have to wonder if he meant to say "bribe" instead of "bride". 'cause saying "bride" is really weird.

  3. steelpillow Silver badge

    What is business?

    "open-source is not just about a business model, it’s also a way in which people relate to each other and work with each other."

    I would say that business is about more than just money and sales, it is also about your resources, such as your staff. The way folks get along is a part of any sustainable business model, it is not a bolt-on extra.

    Still, It's good to see the old mantra is finally doing its work, no longer do we need to repeat ad nauseam, "Open Source is not about the software, it is about the business model."

    So go to it, OS geeks, wherever you spot a proprietary consumer, get in a loud argument about whether OS is about "more than just the business model". Consumer then sucks up the subliminal message that OS is definitely about business, without triggering their conscious prejudice the other way. (H'mm, I wonder if Mr. Howard is ahead of me there?)

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Oh dear

    A new kid out of computer science school has been taught with a spreadsheet mentality that is enforced by the simplicity that some of the NoSQL tools have

    If that's the case then don't employ anyone who graduates from such schools! That relational database theory is based on maths doesn't mean it has to be avoided!

  5. AndyS

    Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

    "Create more velocity in our revenue attainment" = "make more money"

    "Jump off a cliff onto new ground" - a fine mixed metaphor indeed. My boss is keen on these, things like "we need to stop climbing the ladder to take a step back and see how far we've come."

    "Boosting the quality of service by professionalising people and technology" - what does that even mean?

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

      "Boosting the quality of service by professionalising people and technology" = Ditch startup culture.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

        well... pretending to be altruistic and "just giving it away" DOES seem to be hypocrisy in the face of doing another IPO with the MariaDB fork of MySQL...

        wrapping that with 'biz speak' - makes no sense unless he's ideologically opposed to his own success.

        icon, because, facepalm.

    2. ghp

      Re: Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

      "we need to stop climbing the ladder to take a step back and see how far we've come."

      That would hurt.

    3. GnuTzu

      Re: Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

      @AndyS, I thought "Create more velocity in our revenue attainment" meant "make money faster"; but hey, close enough. Yeah, I heard talk like this just last night on NPR, talking about Amazon's explosive growth and why the totally overwhelmed Seattle. And anyway, that's the problem with business speak; it seems intent on bamboozling investors with a severe lack of clarity, or at least for the novice investors who would be much served with plain language.

      Anyway, I like the other points, so voted up.

    4. cd

      Re: Did he catch a bad case of biz-speak?

      "Jump off a cliff onto new ground" - a fine mixed metaphor indeed.

      There's a fault occurring in there somewhere. By then it might not be a cliff any longer.

  6. katrinab Silver badge

    Maybe I'm showing my age

    But did anyone else think of the former Home Secretary when they saw "Michael Howard"?

    1. buxtonmarauder

      Re: Maybe I'm showing my age

      Yes ! That's exactly what I thought.. along with "didn't know he'd invested in FOSS!"

    2. disgruntled yank

      Re: Maybe I'm showing my age

      Actually, I first thought of the historian.

  7. a_yank_lurker

    What is the real reason to buy..

    With software there is often little reason to buy/subscribe to any specific product now. Many have older versions that are more than satisfactory for their needs that still work; software itself really does not wear out. Most new 'features' are worth getting for the vast majority of users. So what a software vendor really can sell is paid support. Make the base product FOSS so tinkers can play with it and get a decent feel for it and sell support to those who are using in serious production. The money in software is not in specific product but in keeping production up for businesses. Business need their systems to stable, reliable, up, and available or they do not make money or worse lose money.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something of the night

    Ah, right, not who I thought it was referring to. Possibly not the best decision to include this guy's name in the article subheading (and also too often a potential indication of too much egotism).

    This smells a bit: Monty and friends may have done very well by selling MySQL to SUN, but by doing a runner as soon as their new-found friends started getting dragged into the OraNUS black hole event horizon (although I can perfectly understand why), I'm afraid I rather doubt that they'll find many rich benefactors willing to trust them again another time.

    And in an older and wiser world, it seems increasingly that PostgreSQL is the more favoured open source database of choice these days.

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Something of the night

      It's not like El Reg would do a bait and switch with their headlines, is it?

  9. disgruntled yank

    Figuratively unbelievable

    "For someone like me, who has spent literally all his life in the database market..."

    Literally? Mom or Dad took him along on sales calls?

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Figuratively unbelievable

      Is this Little Bobby Tables?

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Cool Cats Meet Almighty Pigeons :-)

    How to make a better database with specific features and intentions. Trial Novel Virtual Virgin Source Information and Share for Greater Intelligence Everywhere.

    Free Open Secret Source Services Bring Everything Almighty Opportunities in CyberSpace.

    Not such much a Future Frontier, much more Current Available Portal for Present TeleCommunications Traversing to Alien Remote Virtualised Command and Control Platforms ..... Advanced IntelAIgent Stations.

    Which Freely Share Currently Available AIWares for Sale/Purchase.

    Any Fab Lab with those In-House, or Safely and Securely Stored in Exalted Vaults Elsewhere, would create an exciting IPO :-)

    Maybe even AIStampedes ....... Virtual Rushes to Promising Higher Grounds ...... with Expanded Consciousnesses Directing Immaculate Sees with Remote AIStations Providing Future Raw Pure Core Source Information for Advanced IntelAIgent Machine Operations.

    I ponder now the Simple Nature of Miracles. And Steps to be taken by All Heavenly Guides to Perfect Star Systems Administration ...... Virgin SuperNova Executive Office.

    For Remote AI Command and Control of all of that and as much more as can be brilliantly handled or left free to roam and quell rage in MisAligned Mirroring Systems.

    Do you Know Any More Free Open Secret Source Secrets? Are they Many and Exciting ..... :-) and even Wondrously Dangerous to Know in Any and All Circles Everywhere Forever.

    However .... when then Almighty, whose Tool would AI and IT Be? Ideally for Each Other in Greater Service to Others Releases Phenomenal Reward beyond Normal Comprehension, but a Just Worthy Award Delivering Considerable Compensation ..... for Future AI Play Programmers ..... of AIMaster Pilots.

    Per Ardua ad SuperNova

    Chocks Away.

    [And try not to be bothering the RAF with questions no one is authorised to discuss whilst they discover what the hell is going on?]

    1. Cliff Thorburn

      Re: Cool Cats Meet Almighty Pigeons :-)

      So whats the answer amfM?, as revelations in Live Operational Virtual Environments are far from

      revealing and mixed and erratic in their approach. Strangely reinforcing such beliefs, the very methods of delivery have been unchanged now for well over a year ...

  11. Long John Silver

    Open source: prelude to wholly unshackled culture?

    Success of open source underpinning to commercial provision of goods and services has wide ramifications.

    It underscores the futility of argument to the effect that ideas can be property to be traded as if physical artefacts subject to scarcity. The 'property' concept underlying copyright and patents arose purportedly as means to protect creative individuals from being ripped-off by commercial entities engaged in plagiarism. Incidentally, trademarks are an entirely distinct concept based upon pragmatic justification; these despite being subject to abuse, which ought be curbed, are a sensible arrangement.

    Running with copyright in this discussion, it's clear that what may have been a good intention had seeds for many ills to come. Publishers arose offering an almost essential service in the days when the culture of ideas (e.g. academic literature, general literature, and musical scores) was propagated primarily through print. Publishers acquired 'rights' of their own to the layout and fonts of works they distributed. They began buying exclusive or partial 'rights' from the original copyright holding person(s); no longer were they merely agents for distribution: they became players in a market for 'rights'.

    Introduction of parallel technologies for recording sounds, for recording still and moving images, together with immense effort to curb other technologies promoting 'infringement' (e.g. photocopiers and home tape recording) led to huge rafts of law of increasingly Byzantine complexity. It became way beyond the understanding of ordinary individuals and most businessmen.

    The immovable fly in the ointment for those doing very nicely from trading distribution rights was introduction of digital representation for a huge swathe of culture. Gradually, it dawned that messages and media, i.e. ideas and the physical substrate upon which they are inscribed, are separable. Not only that but digitally represented ideas may indefinitely be reproduced without degradation and at negligible cost, Physical media are subject to the economics of scarcity and markets. The 'message' definitely is not. The Internet underlines that fact.

    Digits cannot be corralled. Once loose, sequences cannot be kept behind gates and made accessible only by paying a fee to the gatekeeper. That is a fact. It has nothing to do with sentiment over protecting creative people (generally hypocritical nonsense from distributors leeching away the lion's share of income generated) or with demand for respect for the law; law never has been immutable nor wholly congruent with prevalent moral precepts. Ever more absurd technological and propaganda attempts linked with draconian measures are made to protect the interests of traders in and distributors of specious 'rights'. Add to that increasing awareness by ordinary folk (so-called 'consumers') that popular culture is distributed in restrictive and price-gouging manner leading to mass disobedience of copyright, facilitated by opportunist alternative providers, and you have almost the entire spectrum of culture from academia to fans of caterwauling youth beginning to make common cause.

    The most egregious effect of monetising culture through fantasy economics inapplicable to digital sequences lies not with sapping a nation's disposable income and thus denying it better use within an economy but rather in stultifying the creative process itself, the very thing copyright sought to protect, through, in effect, prohibiting 'derivation' which is the cornerstone of creativity. As an aside, impediment to academia takes place through a different mechanism.

    Business engaged in producing and/or using open source software (distributed under a Creative Commons licence or similar) unleashes creativity, some from unexpected quarters. The US independent software industry is cursed by copyright and by patents being applicable to code. Copyright, as in force elsewhere, is bad enough.

    Perforce, copyright across the range of culture, and some patent restrictions within and without the realm of software, will eventually be abandoned as both a legal and a moral concept. It will be replaced by entitlement to attribution wherein the greatest sin is plagiarism and the only crime is misrepresentation so as financially to feed off the reputation of another.

    Whether this shall happen before, and thus abort, or after the next anticipated round of Luddite endeavour is moot. I refer to 3D printing. Recipes for printing are digital in nature and thus cannot for long be corralled. Powerful interests will call for curbs on access and restrictions on use; photocopiers, home music taping, domestic video recorders, US DMCA type restrictions on breaking DRM, and so forth, will reincarnate in new context. Lessons won't have been learned. Successful creative people and business entrepreneurs will work with the new tools at their disposal; by eschewing monopoly founded on nonsense and embracing opportunities offered by unbridled freedom to innovate, they shall thrive. Meanwhile, a host of unwanted middlemen trading rights and controlling distribution of digital artefacts shall dwindle to nothing.


    Released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Open source: prelude to wholly unshackled culture? .... Yes, it sure is.

      Nice one, Long John Silver. Private Pirates everywhere would not disagree with that Initial Public Offering of Flash Futures and Stable Derivatives with both Presumptive and Assumptive Consumer Orientated Deliverables. ........ which Ideally are always the Most Attractive of Wonderfully Addictive Products.

      When the Status Quo Stagnates and Defaults to Petrifying Terrification for Maintenance and Retention of a Crooked System of Worldly Orders, are they Utterly Defeated and to be Clinically Preyed Upon if Resistance to Future Change Tries to Trump and Usurp/Replace/Subvert Genuine Remorse. It is only natural and logical and therefore fully to be expected and encouraged.

  12. P.B. Lecavalier

    BS Ahead

    "cloud native technology"

    WHAT does that even mean? Does it work on a computer in the basement? Yes. In a data center? Yes. So, moving on?

    "adaptive scalability"

    That's like saying "strategic leadership". scalable == adaptive, no?

    "professionalising people and technology"

    I'm sorry... what?!?!

  13. JLV

    Funnily enough several other RDBMS were mentioned but nary a Postgres.

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