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MySQL critical of 'crippled' closed-source databases

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MySQL's chief executive has cast himself as both friend and foe of closed-source database companies, criticizing partners and competitors for releasing "crippled" versions of existing database products.

Marten Mickos opened the MySQL user conference naming Oracle as a "partner of the year" before laying into the giant - along with IBM, Microsoft and Sybase - for releasing "free" versions of their databases under closed licenses in order to up sell customers to more expensive versions.

Mickos told conference delegates gathered in Santa Clara, California, Wednesday: "There's no freedom in crippleware... I learned when I moved to the US there's no such thing as a free lunch. If a company that gives you a free version is closed source, they gain nothing unless you upgrade to the expensive version."

Speaking to The Register afterwards, Mickos added he is also seeking partnerships with IBM and Microsoft having held talks with Microsoft and different parts of IBM - including the DB2 division.

The CEO believes MySQL would give IBM another tool for meeting customer demand. For Microsoft, Mickos said MySQL could serve as a weapon in its battle against Linux - making this a battle of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python) versus WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python.) The pay off for MySQL, is integration and optimization with Windows - 40 per cent of MySQL users are running on Windows.

"Microsoft is a platform [Windows and Office] company. Their loyalty is to the platform... This lets them respond to LAMP as WAMP," Mickos said.

Partnerships, or not, Mickos didn't hold back from attacking the strategies of these companies along with Oracle and Sybase for, separately, launching free versions of their databases, branded "Express." Features in each vary, with limits set on the number of users who can connect, number of processors the product runs on, or the amount of data that can be stored. Each is released under a closed-source license.

Mickos criticized the long-term benefit to customers of Express products. "They all have Express versions... they don't have a life of their own. They don't have a value on their own," he said. Closed-source vendors should simply open source their database and offer just a single product to all customers, he added.

The CEO's words came despite honoring Oracle as MySQL partner of the year and announcing an extended partnership with the giant. The award came as a clear surprise to conference delegates, judging by the collective intake of breath slightly before the standard round of applause. Both the award and partnership, though, have more to do with InnoDB than any love for Oracle.

Oracle acquired storage engine provider InnoDB in a deal last year that raised concerns about whether Oracle was moving to crush MySQL by owning a key part of MySQL's architecture. The Oracle partnership will last for "several years" Mickos said. "We are happy to see InnoDB continue to be one of the family."

MySQL, though, is not investing too much faith in Oracle's goodwill over the long term. Mickos unveiled a program to certify storage engines for use with MySQL. The pluggable storage engine infrastructure program will provide testing for developers to prove their storage engines are compatible with MySQL Server.

Storage engine technology from Solid Information Technology, a provider of high-end, embedded databases, will become the first third party offering to be certified under the program. Also announced was a joint reseller deal with partnership Solid.®

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