MySQL sale: Implications for LAMP

Very few would relate the Sun MySQL deal with the recent final release of PHP4. With the ‘M’ of LAMP under the control of a traditional rival and death of the technology that almost single handedly popularized the LAMP stack, what does the future of the PHP and LAMP in general look like?

PHP is different now from the time when I started working with it. It was almost impossible to sell PHP to the so called ‘enterprise’. In sharp contrast, recently I was in a meeting with a major software services company who has big teams for Java and .Net but was desperate for a partner who would help them build PHP capabilities.

Companies like Zend deserve major credit for this shift. Over the last few years they have been trying to be more acceptable to the enterprise market. The results are apparent; Windows/IIS is trying to play nice with PHP, IBM/Oracle has made significant contributions to improve PHP’s integration with their products. No wonder, Zend increasingly looks like another prime candidate for acquisition by one of the big boys.

Perhaps this move was necessary to ensure the long term survival of PHP. The ‘P’ of LAMP no longer means only PHP; it has grown to encompass technologies like Python and Ruby. Frameworks like Rails have a low enough entry barrier for the bulk of PHP developers to consider them as alternatives. PHP benefited a lot from its early adoption by shared hosting providers. Now, hosts offer other technologies as well and VPS hosting has become affordable enough to be an alternative.

What about MySQL and Sun? For MySQL this deal is hard to top, they finally got the global sales, support and delivery potential to compete with the likes of Oracle and SQL Server. For Sun, this is great for multiple reasons. It has been steadily losing new developers and mindshare to LAMP technologies. This acquisition, among other developments allows them to fuzzy the distinction a bit … sounds similar to what Microsoft is trying to do with Linux, isn’t it? It does not hurt that they finally have a strong database offering. I suspect Sun will shortly develop an alternative to InnoDB as well.

Perhaps technologies like JRuby and Groovy point towards the future, where scripting languages and frameworks exist inside the Java ecosystem rather than with an alternative stack. How much these developments would affect an internet increasingly accessed via devices and rich internet applications, remains to be seen.