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MySQL – To Be Or Not to Be

MySQL – To Be Or Not to Be

Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems is great for Oracle, but I can’t imagine how it will be beneficial for the MySQL community.

Clearly MySQL has presented challenges for Oracle’s business model, and as one of the most followed open source initiatives, MySQL based applications are making significant impact against commercial business. Although MySQL is GPL, they do have a commercial following that ultimately has given rise to cheaper and faster solutions.

Consider this, Yahoo which was once the king of search engines and to many was the Internet portal of choice was once solely based on Oracle. Even the name Yahoo, which is a really an acronym for, “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”, has its roots back in the software giant.

But today Google is clearly the leader in Internet search and taking the lead with such innovations as Google Apps and Google Analytics. Google is a die-hard MySQL shop, along with many of the industry’s leading top-tier vendors. MySQL provides a different take on database architectures, by keeping the data engines smaller and more nimble than Oracle. And let’s face it, MySQL is free, and even for commercial users it is very cost effective.

Oracle wants to maintain their $ 90 billion dollar a year market share, and what better way to resolve competition than to buy the competitor? So, what will this mean for all the new application companies that have built their solutions on MySQL- Google, SugarCRM, EM7… and the tens of thousands of people who use MySQL each and every day?

Honestly, anything’s possible as only Larry Ellison knows, and he’s not talking about MySQL to the press. One thing’s for sure, MySQL’s Falcon project, which was designed to replace the InnoDB license which Oracle bought from underneath MySQL several years ago, will likely never see the light of day.

I don’t think Oracle wants to become the next Microsoft, and drive users to wage open source war against them. Instead, I would hope that Oracle embraces the MySQL community and understands that there exists distinctly different market segments that leave plenty of room for both to exist. Oracle could take this opportunity to give MySQL commercial users the support and service they request and expand a new business practice around commercial implementation of MySQL. Even further, they could engineer an upgrade for those looking to gracefully migrate to an Oracle based solution from MySQL.

Perhaps that’s hopeful thinking on my behalf. Either way, Oracle’s next move is an important one, as there’s already discussion and some movement around splitting code branches of MySQL’s open source projects. Drizzle is one such initiative, where former Sun and MySQL die-hards decided to create a new spin against the tried-and-true MySQL codebase.

If the evolution of Linux can foretell the path of MySQL, it’s highly likely that other new code-branches will start appearing in the not too distant future. Perhaps different flavors, with different data engines which further promote the community initiatives seeking quicker solutions that seemingly go unheralded by corporate giants.

No matter what, the next couple of years will be very interesting. We will see if Oracle can nurture this dynamic global community to scale their business to new heights, or if they let down one of the most proficient and powerful open source communities.

David Link is president and CEO of ScienceLogic. He and his partners built a thriving company from the ground up by focusing on delivering “products that just work” to the underserved IT infrastructure management marketplace. He has held senior management and corporate officer positions at large public companies.

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