Oracle guru speaks peace, MySQL old-guard cautious
Closed-source kid gloves applied
Dr DBA, a top technology guru at Oracle, has appeared at MySQL's annual conference to sooth concerns over the open-source database's future under Oracle.
Ken Jacbos, vice president of product strategy in Oracle's server technologies division, was brought on stage to highlight the history of fraternal collaboration between Oracle and MySQL.
Which was timely, considering that this week Oracle agreed a $5.6bn deal to acquire Sun Microsystems, which last year bought MySQL for $1bn. And many people are suspicious of Oracle's intentions towards the database it will soon own.
But Jacbos's message was clear: MySQL is safe under Oracle, so don't wobble and turn to Postgres or stop building the open-source database.
Elsewhere, two prominent ex-MySQL execs have expressed their concern over MySQL's development and pointed out how the closed-source database giant could fumble the ownership of MySQL.
MySQL founder Monty Widenius has warned of the possible damage to development should the remaining MySQL talent finally decide to abandon the operation, or - as typically happens with Oracle - get cut if they are not considered essential.
Not the best possible reputation
Widenius - who left Sun in February - blogged: "Oracle, not having the best possible reputation in the Open Source space, will have a hard time keeping the remaining MySQL people in the company or even working on the MySQL project. Oracle will also have a hard time to ensure to the MySQL customers, community and users that it will keep MySQL 'free and available for all'."
Widenius pointed to how MySQL commercial and project leaders had left Sun following that acquisition.
"The biggest threat to MySQL future is not Oracle per se, but that the MySQL talent at Sun will spread like the wind and go to a lot of different companies which will set the MySQL development and support back years," he said.
He said the Monty Program Ab that he's been working on could play a "significant role". It could become analogous to Red Hat's Fedora, he said. "With Oracle now owning MySQL, I think that the need for an independent true Open Source entity for MySQL is even bigger than ever before."
Mickos, who stepped down as head of Sun's database group before the Oracle deal was announced, warned that merging MySQL with Oracle's main database group will result in turf wars. This risked losing the philosophy of MySQL and its edge in the market.
Another risk to MySQL would be simply giving it away for free, he noted. "But my belief is that Oracle's executives understand this," he wrote.
MySQL 5.4 tweaks
Zack Urlocker, Sun's vice president of lifecycle marketing, meanwhile, blogged at the MySQL User Conference that Jacobs highlighted forthcoming performance enhancements for MySQL 5.4 that are coming from Oracle and community.
Sun announced a preview version of MySQL 5.4, available here, at the show. Also announced was MySQL Cluster 7.0, the high-availability database that adds support for popular LDAP directories and takes a step towards cluster back-up and maintenance.
Urlocker, who was previously MySQL's vice president of products for Sun's database group, called Jacobs a "straight shooter" who had kept his word on keeping InnoDB open and evolving.
Jacobs might be a straight shooter but his employer has taken what are either some highly idiosyncratic steps or carefully calculated moves in relation to MySQL. In 2005 Oracle bought MySQL transactional storage engine InnoDB, sending alarm through out the community.
It saw individuals subsequently build and refine alternative transaction storage engines despite Oracle's commitment at the time to keep developing InnoDB.
Oracle, meanwhile, chose the MySQL conference to announce the latest update to InnoDB - Embedded InnoDB. The company said Embedded InnoDB will let you embed InnoDB's high-performance and data management features into an application using a small footprint. Embedded InnoDB is available under GPLv2 for Linux and Windows.
The truth is, MySQL probably does have relatively little to worry about under Oracle, in terms of on-going development. It is one of just three Sun software assets worth buying, along with Java and Solaris. MySQL will likely even prosper financially under Oracle.
Do not enter the prize
The issue will be over how far Oracle decides to develop and sell MySQL in the enterprise. Oracle has little problem with MySQL on the web, but the enterprise is Oracle territory.
Jacobs put MySQL in its place at the Open-Source Business Conference (OSBC) in 2008, when he told a panel MySQL had "done a fabulous job of capitalizing web application development" while Oracle had "done a fabulous job" in the enterprise and running packaged applications.
While web and systems integrator were strong for MySQL, Sun has made a determined effort to turn the enterprise downloads of the database into a repeating revenue stream.
Whether Urlocker knew it or not, he hinted at the politics to come in his blog. He cited an International Oracle User Group study that said a third of Oracle shops had MySQL in production, side-by-side with their Oracle databases.
Before news of the Oracle acquisition that was a positive for MySQL and for Sun against Oracle in its home territory. Today that's called a win-win for Oracle. Tomorrow, there will be tough questions over which database Oracle should be selling. The answer for Oracle will be the one that's proven to make money - and that will be Oracle in the enterprise and MySQL on the web and among systems partners. ®