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Oracle's MySQL buy a 'fiasco' says Dovecot man Mikko Linnanmäki

The first rule of open source club: don't sell to Oracle if you want to live

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A co-founder of the widely-used IMAP server Dovecot has outlined his three rules for open source success, in terms Larry Ellison may not enjoy.

“The first rule is don't sell your company to Oracle if you want to keep your product alive,” he told World Hosting Day in Singapore yesterday.

“The second rule is also don't sell sell your company to Oracle.”

Linnanmäki's remarks were, of course, made in reference to Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, a transaction he feels was a “fiasco” but has turned out “not that bad because the only one suffering is Oracle.”

Which brings us to his third law, namely that the open source community routes around obstacles and re-groups on the other side.

“Most of the main MySQL developers are doing MariaDB based on the open source version of MySQL,” he observed. “The community is moving to MariaDB. They are back on the good side.”

Linnanmäki wasn't just taking a swipe at Big Red or extolling the virtues of open source. Dovecot is open source, numbers many telcos and hosting operators among its users, says it runs on 2.7m servers and operate hundreds of millions of mailboxes. The MySQL situation is therefore of interest to its users.

Linnanmäki said users need not worry Dovecot will befall the same fate as MySQL. For one, it is not for sale. Author Timo Sirainen is also just 32, has plenty of plans for the tool and the company's management team have no plans to head for the beach.

Even if they do, or the software became moribund, Linnanmäki is confident the open source community would build on Dovecot.

Dovecot, meanwhile, is keen to build on Google's recently-announced decision to permit access to data within Gmail inboxes without needing to have IMAP present in client software.

Linnanmäki said he feels this approach “makes sense” and that Dovecot has dabbled with similar approaches in the past. The outfit will therefore tweak its server to allow Google's new APIs to work. “We will be supporting this evolution of access to email”, Linnanmäki said.

The founder also had some unkind words – and a familiar dose of bad news – for conventional array vendors. Dovecot can run natively inside AWS or Azure, or use those services' cloud storage facilities, a facility he feels is critical for service providers.

Linnanmäki cited the case of a Dutch Dovecot service provider who wished to greatly increase the size of the mailboxes it offered to users. During the scoping process the service provider found that the cost of maintenance alone for new NetApp arrays more than covered the cost of migrating away from old arrays to a cloudy replacement, and the operations of the new system.

“If you do storage with NFS and appliances your email services will not be very profitable,” Linnanmäki said. ®

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