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Oracle drops top architect into MySQL skeptic zone

The lonely sound of the solo clapper

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MySQL Con It was a skeptical crowd of MySQLers that greeted Oracle's chief software architect at their annual conference on Tuesday, where he tried to sound reassuring on the future of their database.

Edward Screven's message was simple: Oracle will continue to develop, maintain, and improve the community and Enterprise editions of their favorite, open-source database.

"We are going to continue to develop and improve and support MySQL. We are going to improve engineering... and we are going to continue to enhance the community edition. If we starved the community edition then MySQL would stop being ubiquitous - we want MySQL to be used by everyone."

The reason "why" is down to the fact MySQL provides a fast, small, and open addition to the giant's database layer that was missing and that he said completes Oracle's product stack.

Also, Screven claimed, Oracle has found lots of its enterprise customers are running MySQL in addition to Oracle's database even though they are entitled to use unlimited amounts of Oracle's database under their license.

"Where does Oracle fit in this scheme," asked the man who drives the technology and architecture decisions across Oracle's entire product line. "Adding MySQL to that database tier of the stack, we add more applications, we satisfy more customer requirements, we make the Oracle solution more complete - that's why MySQL matters to Oracle and Oracle customers."

If Oracle corporate hoped Screven's message would draw applause based on some collective relief it was wrong: just one person in the hushed room clapped - furiously - and this was possibly one of Oracle's employees spotted at the show trying to cheerlead a round of unspontaneous applause.

MySQLers were amused by the lone clapper, but they mostly sat impassively - arms folded - the applause only amplifying the soft, dark silence of that Santa Clara conference hall. Screven thanked his lone clapper - and quickly moved on.

“If we starved the community edition then MySQL would stop being ubiquitous - we want MySQL to be used by everyone” - Oracle chief software architect Edward Screven

Oracle's man had slightly more luck highlighting what he called "one of the most significant changes" in up-coming MySQL 5.5, which is in beta. The InnoDB storage engine bought by Oracle in 2005 will become MySQL's default storage engine. Also, InnoDB will be included for free with MySQL Enterprise Edition, which is charged under a support contract.

He announced plans for a storage engine advisory board where storage engine makers could meet Oracle, relate their experiences and provide input on the MySQL roadmap. Screven also committed Oracle to an open pluggable storage engine architecture for MySQL, even though InnoDB will become the default storage and transaction engine.

News of the plan to make InnoDB the default transactional storage engine drew a slightly bigger response, as a small pocket of around three or four people exploded in furious applause, while the rest of the room silent.

InnoDB still makes up a huge chunk of the MySQL code and is still probably the most popular of the many storage and transaction engines available for the database. Oracle has been working on InnoDB since the acquisition five years ago, so the commitment likely represents a reflection of Oracle's desire to focus its engineering resources on this one rather than the many options out there.

It will be telling just how much influence the advisory board actually has over the MySQL roadmap - and how much its wishes and desires are factored into the plans.

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