Business Objects Goes Back to the (MySQL) Well

MySQL gives Business Objects a cost-effective alternative to IBM, Microsoft, and others. This isn’t an unalloyed good, however.

Business Objects SA last week expanded its existing partnership with open source database vendor MySQL AB by notching a new OEM referral agreement.

In April of this year, Business Objects announced a significant partnership with MySQL to embed the latter’s eponymous database into versions of its BusinessObjects XI for use Linux and UNIX. The new OEM referral agreement expands this arrangement to include a variety of bundled offerings tweaked for reporting and data integration for MySQL. The bundles include Crystal Reports and Business Objects’ Data Integrator ETL tool, too.

Aside from its revenue-generating potential, the new OEM referral arrangement serves an important strategic purpose for Business Objects, analysts say. “This should further enhance Business Objects’ credibility with the open source community while at the same time reminding its database partners, some of whom are also competitors in the BI and data integration market, that it is not beholden to any of them,” writes Mike Schiff, a principal with data warehousing and business intelligence consultancy MAS Strategies.

MySQL has shipped with XI for more than half a year now. And at least one user who’s had a chance to put the Business Objects and MySQL combination through its paces says he likes what he sees—so far. “We're using MySQL for the metadata repositories. I don't have plans to use it for the query side. At least not right now,” says Mark Madsen, a member of the TDWI Research collaborative and a consultant and data warehouse manager. “I have a feeling it would do better than DB2 on that front though. IBM has still not migrated a lot of the useful features of DB2 from the mainframe to Unix/Linux.”

Madsen says the XI/MySQL combination has a lot to recommend it—starting first and foremost with ease of installation. “We're using MySQL for the metadata because it installs easily and quickly, has a much smaller footprint on the system, and we don't need to worry about whether we have licenses available to run N copies of DB2 or SQL Server,” he confirms.

At the same time, Madsen won’t yet vouch for MySQL as a query performer—although he says he’s fairly confident some organizations have tapped it for that role. “I don't know who's using MySQL for the query database, but I'm sure they're out there,” he concludes. “Most places using MySQL for the data warehouse that I know about are using their own customer delivery software, or one of the open source reporting projects.”

MAS Strategies’ Schiff, too, says good things about the expanded relationship.

“The use of open source MySQL represents a cost-effective alternative to many of the proprietary databases offered by Business Objects’ other database partners,” he points out. The arrangement should be a boon to both companies, too, Schiff speculates. “As a MySQL Network certified partner, Business Objects immediately finds itself on the shortlist in MySQL database environments,” he points out. “MySQL will be able to leverage its relationship with a major and well respected BI and data integration vendor, [and] … Business Objects is giving credibility to MySQL for use in the business world.”

Of course, the expanded relationship isn’t without risk, too. Database partners Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. might find it difficult to compete against the cost-effectiveness of the XI/MySQL pairing, Schiff says. This could complicate Business Objects’ relationships with these and other vendors.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.