Last week I learned that Sun has put its 3 database groups (Java DB, MySQL, PostgreSQL) under Marten Mickos. First off, who knew Sun had such a broad database portfolio???? Second, smart move putting them all under Marten.

In speaking with Marten’s Java DB team I gave them a small nugget of advice that has served us incredibly well with WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE). Simply put win with the strengths of the family, not individual products.

I’ve written about customers wanting choice and flexibility and the challenges of trying to position any product, OSS or not, as the answer to every problem. As a result, we’ve shifted from competing with WAS CE by itself to competing with WAS CE as an integral member of the WebSphere family of app servers. The results speak for themselves. Today, some customers use WAS CE alone, and others use WAS CE and then move up to the broader WebSphere app server family. A growing number are using WAS CE and the broader WebSphere app server family together to achieve different things within the same project. By bringing the family to the table we are able to win deals that start with either WAS CE or any member of the WebSphere app server family.

Sun has a similar opportunity. If the customer wants an embeddable Java database, Sun has Java DB. If the customer is looking for a really easy to use database for web-based CRUD apps, Sun has MySQL. If the customer is looking for a higher-end database or looking to replace some Oracle instances, Sun has PostgreSQL. Positioning the three options to go after three different usage situations will help reduce confusion. It also prevents a “one size fits all” mentality, which customers rarely subscribe to. The challenge for Marten and team is to tie the family message together by making it easier to use all three databases together in a larger application/project. This will be a critical step to ensuring that a MySQL customer can also be sold Java DB etc. Common tooling (to the degree possible) will go a long way towards making the family story a reality.

Good luck guys. Win with the family.