Gift Peddie (2/4/2009)
... but money and brains improve products overtime Sun have both.
OK, let's consider the "money and brains" situation:
Considering MySQL and MS SQL Server: both products have had basically the same amount of time, many people do not know that both products started very nearly at the same time.
One product had paid development thrown at it (translation: large amounts of money and brains). The other sat for a time with a far smaller pool of few, then went opensource (translation: trickle amounts of money, and functionally not more brains as everything still flowed through a single (or few) gate keeper(s)). One somehow grew 10 years ahead of the other (witnessed even by your own words above, in your comparison to SQL Server 7/2K).
I sincerely hope MySQL does improve. But it won't be on the "free" nickel. In TCO, sadly many only consider the blaring initial cost... but the cost in time and money in any required work-arounds, make-dos, and caveats far exceeds the initial cost of any product... many times over. Bad or inappropriate choices translate to lost opportunity costs. One must consider how much that choice will affect the enterprise, compared to other products, for at least a decade into the future. If one product is a decade behind another, what does that mean to the enterprise? How much is at the fingertips, and how much will cause endless sleepless nights?
Too many times the choice is made by personal familiarity and predjudice (free vs. cost of initial investment) instead of real world experience and reality.
Sun will make up their billion dollar investment in boosted server sales alone. Look at the main page of the MySQL site these days: what is advertised more? Servers or DBMS? Good luck on the MySQL platform going forward in big ways. It will only do so if it becomes a major paying stream and owns their ACID-compliant DB engine.
MS SQL Server, on the other hand, is and must be a paying stream for MS, and has far more "money and brains" that are actually fully dedicated to the improvement of the product thereof. This is not biased chatter... just looking at the situation as it has rolled on, over time.
I see MS making strides and substantial in-roads with light platforms of the flagship DB product, negating the intial startup cost issue. I see Sun pushing hardware more than ever.
Your mileage may vary.