The Beautiful Game

by Bryan Kirschner on April 24, 2007 03:49pm

At the MySQL Conference and Expo 2007, technical experts from Microsoft and MySQL are here demonstrating a number of technology projects that give customers more choice when deploying MySQL on Windows. In fact, MySQL and Microsoft work together on a number of applications, including ADO.NET provider Interop, and a Visual Studio plug-in that enables developers to access MySQL data directly from VS.

If this is a surprise, a good way to understand why we’re working together in this way is to look at the most popular sport in the world—football (what the U.S. calls soccer).  Football is often referred to as “the beautiful game.”  Despite the fact that every team wants to compete and win, and many teams have fierce, ongoing rivalries, all teams share common ground in the value of playing a “beautiful game.”  If football maintains its unique appeal compared to other sports, it will continue to attract more fans, generating more opportunity for an ecosystem of business partners and investor, and thus more opportunity for current and aspiring players.  By virtue of being part of this broad ecosystem, each individual player on each team steps onto the pitch with a part to play in the future of global sport

Customers as Common Ground...
As commercial software companies, MySQL and Microsoft share substantial common ground.  Marten Mickos, MySQL’s CEO once told The Economist that their centralized staff of developers enables them to maintain  governance of the code and “go to the commercial users of the product and guarantee the product.”  Explaining, “You could say that this is what they pay for.”

I would take this a step further: it is not only about developers and code. What commercial software companies offer  extends to all the people at both companies who come to work every day cognizant of their role in a broad global ecosystem, and accepting that their job is that much harder  (and potentially more rewarding) because of the  challenge of playing a “beautiful game.” I and my counterparts, Gerardo and Reggie, and our respective colleagues come to work thinking both about supporting  our company’s centralized development processes and enabling  participation from a broad community of volunteers and business partners.  Or the relationship between our investors and shareholders and our employees and business partners.  Or the relationship between our customers and our competitors who may share those same customers.

Everyone shares a desire for “their team” to succeed—but this type of intelligence and competition is a long way from myopic, zero-sum conflict.  And it fosters a diverse and sometimes unpredictable world of opportunities.

Comingling, as Far as the Eye Can See
Particularly in light of a history (of often overly simplified) rhetoric in the market about “proprietary versus open source” business models, I would guess many people would not have predicted they would see a demonstration of MySQL and Microsoft interoperability before they walked into the conference hall.    In fact as I walk around the conference hall,  I am reminded of the an excellent book—Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software—in which   MIT  Professor Michael  Cusumano closes the Foreword with this statement:

The conclusion I reach from reading this book is that the software world is diverse as well as fascinating in its contrasts. Most likely, software users will continue to see a comingling of free, open source, and proprietary software products for as far as the eye can see.

I confess I am not sure what I’ll see here next year—but I confident that with [Gerardo and Marten Mickos and Bill Hilf and] we will continue to compete in a “beautiful game”—and I anticipate we will continue to favorably surprise everyone who walks in the door.

Foreword: )

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