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MySQL veteran drifts clear of Oracle Borg

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Oracle has lost a MySQL veteran who helped the plucky database start-up sink permanent roots in the developer and services communities.

Kaj Arnö has left Oracle quietly, having submitted his resignation in June two days before Sun Microsystems' legal entity in Germany ceased to operate. Arnö was based in Munich.

Arnö had served as MySQL community ambassador for Sun, then Oracle, having joined MySQL AB in 2001 just as the then–little known database was starting to find appeal.

During his time, Arnö had established MySQL training and served as vice presidents of consulting, services, engineering, and then CIO before becoming vice president of community relations, and then vice president of the database community under Sunoracle.

Arnö indicated that he's now taking time out to follow personal interests before returning to work, potentially developing a startup, evangelizing technology, or working in venture capital.

His exit makes him the latest in a line of MySQLers to leave corporate life in the last two years. Cofounder Monty Widenius and CEO Marten Mickos, who matured the MySQL business, left in 2009 as Sun struggled with its own business and with developing a roadmap for MySQL.

Since Oracle's acquisition, Oracle has lost raw MySQL talent including MySQL architect Brian Aker and his Drizzle engineering team.

Not only that, but Oracle has been losing some respected Sun blue-blood talent, including Java father James Gosling, XML co-creator and director of web technologies Tim Bray, and the Solaris engineering brains who'd worked on the revolutionary ZFS.

His exit comes at precisely the time Oracle that is in general cutting back on its dealings with communities Sun had participated in: OpenSolaris, OpenOffice, and the Java Community Process.

Oracle's attitude is not so much "our way or the highway", which suggests that Oracle is at least offering the option of working with it. Instead, what's emerging is a strategy of: "We don't need you, take it or leave it."

The loss of another MySQL veteran in Arnö on the back of other Sun exits will counter attempts by Oracle to try and reassure users that their open-source database's future is safe on the corporate mothership.

Last year Arnö had tried to convince MySQLers that nothing would change for the worse under Oracle, that their database was safe, and that concerns over the database were unfounded.

Among the facts he highlighted was a "huge talent pool" of MySQL experts inside Oracle — a talent pool that's now one member smaller. He also said that Oracle planned to be proactive in its dealings with the community and would emphasize maturing the database.

Even native Oraclers whose presence had been used to reassure MySQL users have gone. Ken Jacobs, vice president of product strategy, left Oracle in February. Jacobs was tipped to lead the MySQL operation that is now under chief corporate architect Edward Screven. Jacobs had led the InnoDB work after Oracle bought the storage engine that MySQL had relied on

For his part, Screven last month made it clear that while Oracle plans to work to enhance the community edition of MySQL, it's going to do so following a roadmap that suits Oracle's roadmap.

In departing wink at the spat between ex-employer Oracle and HP, meanwhile, Arnö blogged about why it has taken three months between resignation and exit.

"Germany isn't a country where you quit HP one day and join Oracle the next, so I had a long summer with plenty of so-called Garden Leave. Last Thursday was my last day, and I'm now outside MySQL AB, outside Sun Microsystems, outside Oracle," he wrote ®

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