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MySQL daddy seeks post-Sun Oracle independence

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MySQL's founder has accelerated his push for the open-source database's independent development, free of its latest, potential corporate owner: Oracle.

Monty Widenius on Wednesday announced the formation of a vendor-neutral consortium that will act as a hub to develop and maintain code, binaries, training, and support for MySQL.

The Open Database Alliance will provide software, support, and services for Widenius' fork of MySQL, MariaDB - which he called an enterprise-grade, community-developed branch of the database bought by Sun Microsystems and now headed to Oracle.

Widenius, who left Sun before news of Oracle's proposed acquisition was made public, has voiced his concern that MySQL's development could be set back years if the talent leaves Oracle or gets axed following a completion of the Sun deal.

He's argued the MariaDB fork can act like the Fedora project to Red Hat's Linux distro.

A key Alliance goal is to remain closely connected to MySQL developers that remain inside Oracle and to also ensure that they continue to work inside the MySQL and MariaDB community instead of getting boxed off by Oracle or serving only development goals deemed priorities by the giant.

"To see colleagues go away from the MySQL/MariaDB community would be a loss for me and for all MySQL users/customers," Widenius told The Reg Wednesday.

The Alliance will seek to create a "better" MySQL Server by continuing to working with MySQL developers inside Oracle, he said. "We will keep MariaDB up to date with all changes to MySQL and it's in our interest that MySQL works."

He noted many of MySQL's original core developers are already working on MariaDB at his MySQL engineering start-up Monty Program Ab, which he founded after leaving Sun in February.

It's unclear how Oracle - which was only initially interested in MySQL along with Java and Solaris before it decided to buy the whole of Sun for $5.6bn - would feel about an outside organization consisting of other vendors taking a controlling stake in the development of its prized, new database.

The Alliance is open to any business, organization, or individual. Participating members joining at this early stage will have a "strong voice" in how the organization is structured, Widenius promised. So far, there are just two founding members - Monty Program Ab and MySQL services and support company Percona.

If, as Widenius said, his own organization is now home to much of the original MySQL talent then it would surely be a shrewd move both politically and technologically for Oracle to participate in and accept the Alliance - especially if the Alliance lives up to the promises and builds an ecosystem of maintainers and partners Oracle can work with and feed off.

But if Oracle sees the Alliance as a hostile move designed to siphon off its MySQL business and shift the responsibility for MySQL outside Oracle, you'll see Oracle stay away.

According to Widenius, the Alliance's goal is to create a new and centralized resource to ensure MySQL remains a top quality, high performance open source database. But these will be the very same goals Oracle will be trying to reassure people are its own objectives. Accepting the Alliance is a tacit acceptance that it cannot meet these on its own.

Widenius, meanwhile, denied that he is sowing forking confusion by going outside of Oracle with both the Alliance and by developing MariaDB. He pointed to past forks with openquery, Percona, Google, and some big companies.

"What we are doing is actually removing the needs of all these forks and working on getting all these people to stand behind one common community developed branch, MariaDB," Widenius told The Reg. ®

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