Tuesday, 26 February 2008

MySQL World Tour in March and April

I hope I'll have the opportunity to meet you in person soon.

A face to face meeting may indeed be possible, if our World Tour celebrating the acquisition of MySQL by Sun has a stop close to you, and if I happen to be lucky to be attending that particular meetup just announced:
To toast the success of the acquisition and engage with customers, employees, community developers and partners, Sun and MySQL executives will kick-off a global tour in March, hitting major cities worldwide leading up to the popular MySQL Conference & Expo in April. Every Sun-MySQL community can participate online, including videos, photos and comments from each stop at www.sun.com/mysqltour. This site will invite the public to visit the tour in a nearby city to meet Sun-MySQL executives, local developers and other open source enthusiasts.

If you click at the Google map, you'll see our schedule.

The trip takes us to interesting places. For me, there's a first: Izhevsk, the capital city of the Udmurt Republic in Russia (start in Moscow, fly straight towards the Ural mountains, stop at 2/3 of the distance). That's where MySQL has one of its longest-serving and most prominent development teams, and I'm ashamed I haven't dropped by before -- but happy to be able to fix it in March.

And if you're a MySQLer or MySQL meetup organiser, do contact Sun about hosting an event close to you. Email MeetUpTour@Sun.COM and contact your local MySQL Community Team member: Jay Pipes for North America, Lenz Grimmer for EMEA, Colin Charles for APAC, and worldwide Community Team Lead Giuseppe Maxia -- who all are best approached through firstname@mysql.com.

The tour talks about us as "rock stars". Now where's humble old MySQL? Well, perhaps you never regarded MySQL as humble, but I'll tell you two anecdotes on the topic anyway.

First, yes, I'd like to think we're humble. But at the same time, we're sticking out our heads in various circumstances. From my former-and-current boss, ex-MySQL-CEO now-Sun-SVP MÃ¥rten Mickos, I've with pride stolen the expression "We're world famous for being humble". It tries to capture that we don't claim MySQL is good for all purposes ("we're the best for everything"), but we still don't hide that MySQL is being used by some fairly impressive enterprises.

Second, I'll tell you about a humbling experience from right after I joined MySQL in 2001. Our founder, Michael "Monty" Widenius wanted me to be exposed to the external community of MySQL users. So he asked me to go to Belgrade in Serbia, to present for the Open Source Network of Yugoslavia. The room could fit 200 people. About 250 turned up. I was the only foreign speaker, and I had asked for some tips by MySQL's first non-founder employee, Sinisa Milivojevic (incidentally a Serb). So I opened with "Dobar dan svima!", good day to you all. Applause! Wow! Then I continued with a phrase that I've forgotten by now, but it meant "sorry for not speaking Serbian". Further applause! "Why? It's just me, Kaj!", I was thinking. But I was truly being treated as a rock star. Talking to the hosts after the presentation, I understood that my favourable reception was partly due to a Western foreigner finally visiting Serbia without dropping bombs in their necks, and even apologising for not speaking Serbian.

Unfortunately, Belgrade isn't on my track this time, but at least Dublin, Stockholm, Moscow, Izhevsk, Kiev, Hamburg, Munich and Milano are. And this time, I promise to do more than just the greeting sentences in a predominant local non-English language (huh, except for Gaelic in Dublin). Let's see if I succeed.

MySQL is officially part of Sun

Now we have The Real Thing: MySQL joins Sun Microsystems!

On 16 January 2008, less than six weeks ago, Sun announced their definitive agreement to acquire MySQL AB. That "definite agreement" was still subject to government approval in the US, Germany and Austria, and to the signing of the legal transfer documents by MySQL AB's current owners.

Those hurdles have now been passed, and the acquisition is thus official. MySQL is part of Sun!

Many community members and customers have surely thought of Sun's acquisition as a Done Deal already. Perhaps there never was any real uncertainty about it, but at least theoretically, there still was a risk of the deal not closing. That uncertainty is now removed.

This is very exciting for us at MySQL.

The last six weeks, we've been living under special circumstances: We've known that Sun is acquiring us. We've seen and experienced that Sun displays a "do no evil" attitude, from the top downwards. I have yet to meet the Sun employee who is not excited about the acquisition. Everyone is eager to get going, to do joint activities, to launch MySQL as part of Sun.

At the same time, an era is ending. Yes, I may be overly dramatic, but today also marks the end of MySQL as an independent company. For me personally, this means I'm now working for a company with over 34.000 employees. In 2001, I split my company into two, and sold one of the halves to MySQL AB. We were employees no 15 to 20 (roughly). I'm happy and proud to note that all five of us who joined MySQL AB in 2001 are still with the company, when it's size is about 450 people. Little did we know!

So what changes with todays announcement of the closing of the deal?

In a way, the "Business as Usual" phase ends. "Business as Usual", in this context, meant that MySQL couldn't take orders from Sun, that MySQL and Sun couldn't go on joint sales calls, and that information between MySQL and Sun couldn't be disclosed freely. Those restrictions are now done and over with, together with the possibility (risk) of the deal not closing.

In another way, "Business as Usual" continues. We'll continue to support our popular development environments (PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, etc etc, not just Java) and likewise our popular platforms (RHEL, Windows, Mac OS X, etc etc, not just Solaris). Things don't change, unless announced.

This also means that the MySQL Users Conference is happening with MySQL being part of Sun. Early registration ends this week, coinciding with the announcement of the closing of Sun's acquisition. I hope this means many potential UC attendees will get wind of the US $ 200 savings in time to register by 26 February (today!).

What are the next steps?

The Integration Team has been working long hours in the past six weeks, planning how MySQL is to be integrated into Sun. Yet, plenty of work still remains: many uncertainties, many questions.

The immediate next step is related to so called personnel on-boarding. As MySQL AB is now a subsidiary of Sun, MySQLers are hence part of Sun. But from an employee perspective, this is merely an intermediate step. MySQLers will transfer to Sun Microsystems, or local subsidiaries of Sun -- such as Sun Microsystems GmbH, in my case. That's something that cannot be planned and executed in no time flat, so it's going to be happening over the next months. When the process has concluded, I hope nearly all MySQLers have signed on, and received their Sun credentials, badges, and whatever insignia belongs to true Sun Microsystems employees.

To this point, I need to mention Damien Eastwood, Sun's VP, Products and Technology Law. He's been absolutely great in understanding the needs and requirements of MySQLers when it comes to job agreements. He's worked with the thought leaders amongst our internal developers, to make the process of deciding whether to accept the Sun job offer a much easier process than what it would have been when the discussions started. A tough challenge, and everyone's not yet on board. Still, I cannot but think it's an omen that if you combine the first name of MySQL's Legal Counsel, Clint Smith, with Damien's last name, you get Clint Eastwood.

So, in summary:

  • The ride has been smooth so far, as judged by my colleagues who've experienced previous integrations.

  • We today really just see the beginning of the integration. I have no doubt that there will be bumps, even though both the Sun and the MySQL side have smart people with a good attitude of making everything work.

  • We haven't figured it all out yet, nor do we need to. Until further notice, we will continue to work as previously.

  • All the Sun employees I've met have been very eager to help, and want to learn from MySQLers.

  • We've had a good FOSS IP debate, where Sun has adapted our job agreements and made it possible for us to de facto contribute to projects other than MySQL, in a practical way.

  • And finally, may I suggest an Action Item for you: Register today (to save 200 US dollars) for our Users Conference 14-17 April 2008! Come to hear Jonathan Schwartz's keynote and learn about all the other things we're doing around MySQL!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Two days to save 200 US dollars

For a change, let me remind you of the upcoming MySQL Users Conference in Santa Clara. It's less than two months from now; it'll be from Monday 14 April 2008 to Thursday 17 April 2008. Same place as last year: Santa Clara, California, USA.

My reminder is triggered by the fact that tomorrow is the last day for Early Registration, by which conference participation costs 1299 instead of 1499 dollars (or, if you skip the Monday tutorials, 999 instead of 1199 dollars). In short, early registration saves you 200 dollars.

I do think the UC is at least as interesting as last year, and I'm very happy about our line-up of keynoters, which includes Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz, MySQL's CEO MÃ¥rten Mickos, Werner Vogels (Amazon.com), Rick Falkvinge (Swedish Pirate Party), Dick Hardt (Sxip), and Jacek Becla (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). For those of you who didn't go to OSCON 2007, Rick Falkvinge may be an unknown name, but boy, did he have the full attention of the audience with a message that wasn't exactly the average conference keynote.


Monday, 11 February 2008

MySQL Culture

As part of planning our integration into Sun, we surveyed all MySQLers on their opinions regarding Sun, their concerns and ideas. Amongst concerns, "retaining the MySQL Culture" ranked second.

MySQL Staff Meeting in Budapest 2003; time off in the Gellért Baths

But what exactly is "The MySQL Culture"? That's never been written down, and defining culture is usually a matter for anthropologists, not Open Source companies.

So we decided to ask. Instead of engaging field anthropologists, we just added a question to the survey. And did we get answers! This is what the foremost experts, i.e. our employees, think constitutes MySQL Culture:

  • A diversified and distributed workforce

  • Lack of empire building

  • A place for geeks

  • Lack of politics

  • The abililty to make decisions

  • Large virtual family

  • The ability to grow

  • Leading by ideas and visions rather than by rules and procedure

  • Accessibility of executives

  • Lean approval cycles

  • Active outbound blogging

  • Learning from others

  • Agility

  • Listen to music

  • Approachability

  • Little "red tape"

  • Being heard when raising concerns

  • Love thy customer

  • Blogging

  • 'M' in [Open Source] LAMP Stack

  • Bringing people together routinely to share, learn and work

  • Making the world better

  • Broken English is our standard language

  • Managing and developing products remotely

  • Can-do spirit

  • Marten Mickos

  • Care for customers

  • Meetings in strange locations

  • CEO mail to *all* employees

  • Minimal bureaucracy

  • Clarity

  • Motivation

  • Collaboration

  • Multicultural environment

  • Collaborative management

  • Mutual respect

  • Commitment to our jobs

  • Nimble organization

  • Communicate freely

  • No back-stabbing or obstructiveness.

  • Communication

  • No politics

  • Continuity

  • No unhealthy competition

  • Continuous product improvement

  • No-asshole Rule

  • Cooperation: one for all and all for one

  • NOT only about money

  • Courageous

  • Open dialog

  • Creative contributions

  • Open minded

  • Cultivating thinking outside the box

  • Open Source

  • Decision making

  • Openness

  • Dedicated

  • Organizational transparency

  • Dev meetings

  • Our lively, highly personal content: photo albums, fun@ mailing list, wiki discussions etc

  • Discuss@ and Life@

  • Passion

  • Discussion

  • Passion for quality

  • Disruptors

  • People, people, people

  • Distributed employees

  • Personal relationships

  • Diversity

  • Polite

  • Drinking songs

  • Positive spirit and attitude

  • Eat good food

  • Pride in our community

  • Efficiency

  • Product quality

  • Embracing the best of many different cultures

  • Quality of work

  • Emphasis on work/life balance

  • Quirkyness

  • Encouragement to express ideas and thoughts

  • Radio Sakila

  • Engineering/support quality

  • RC/GA release policies

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Recognition of hard work

  • Face to face meetings

  • Relatively egalitarian nature

  • Fellowship with co-workers

  • Relaxed humor

  • Fix all known bugs before doing new development

  • Scandinavian-style leadership

  • Flat organization

  • Sense of urgency

  • Flexibility

  • Singing "Helan gÃ¥r"

  • Focus on training and learning

  • Small company feel

  • Free exchange of ideas, thoughts, feedback

  • Speed of development

  • Free, Open, Flat, Casual

  • Support of proactive ideas

  • Freedom to explore new models

  • Surveys

  • Freedom to innovate

  • Team spirit

  • Freedom to work anywhere


  • Friendly environment

  • Test coverage

  • Friendship

  • The importance of each employee

  • Fully empowered teams

  • The love of FOSS


  • The love of the product

  • Global

  • The right to speak up on anything

  • Global Sport's and Culture Days

  • The Users and community

  • Goofy traditions

  • Thorough code review

  • Hard working

  • Treating *all* colleagues as important

  • High quality coffee

  • Trust

  • Honesty

  • Trust in co-worker's expertise

  • Independence to innovate

  • User's Conference

  • Independent thinking

  • Vibrant "online" culture

  • Individualism

  • Virtual

  • Integration with the Community

  • We are outspoken and honest

  • Integrity

  • We go the extra mile

  • Internal debate on the best way to do things

  • We respect and help each other

  • Introduce changes quickly

  • Willingness to lend a helping hand

  • IRC, email, phone, Skype

  • Work ethic

A summary might look like this: We are outspoken and honest. We are dedicated. We are courageous. We aim to do good. We drink high quality coffee, eat good food, listen to music and share these and many other human values across the world on IRC, email, phone, Skype and real-life meetings disregarding business rank, and size of wallet. This helps management to be in touch with the real work as well as helping workers to be in touch with business goals.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

K2 and Wildspitze conquered on ski

After five days of powder skiing and mountain climbing on ski, I'm back in business. This is how I looked out-of-business:

My son and I did not meet with Ötzi the Iceman, but we got a few blisters, a lot of Alpine sun, plenty of powder skiing and the experience of climbing more than 1000 height metres to K2 (in Tirol, not its namesake in Karakorum). And we conquered Austria's second highest peak, the Wildspitze at 3772 metres above sea level.

The group consisted of our Austrian mountain guide, four ladies and four gentlemen, all of which were German except ourselves. I was happy to note that although I was clearly the least seasoned on ski, my physical shape was above average. When I was at my most tired going downhill, my son claimed I looked like his little sister when she learned to ski at five, "and that's an insult to her, not to you". Ah, there's nothing like the honest encouragement of one's own children. My excuse is that since discovering snowboarding in 2000, this was my first time on skis this century.

In theory, this is what you see on a ski tour:

However, this is how most of the uphill climbing looked like in practice from my standpoint: The rear end of my son's skis.

Climbing with skis on can get messy when you need to make a sharp V-turn uphill. This is my son Alexander just after a Spitzkehre, in this case a successful one.

I'll spare you the picture of the blisters on my legs. Let's just say that will power helps alleviate pain. Instead, I'll conclude with a picture of Alexander and myself on the K2: