Can MySQL Continue to Innovate?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-02-01 Print this article Print

Can MySQL continue to innovate under the "rule" of Oracle, or could Oracle let it atrophy?

"Yes, we believe MySQL will live on under the rule of Oracle. Oracle will allow innovation of MySQL, but it might be at a different pace due to Oracle's public-company, corporate status," Alston said.

In its Jan. 21 decision to allow Oracle-Sun to do business in the 27-member European Union, European Commission regulators ruled that many database users consider PostgreSQL to be a "credible alternative" to MySQL, and that MySQL is not the only highly regarded open-source database.

"It appears as though the European Commission never fully understood the competitive issues surrounding MySQL," Alston said. "MySQL was built by developers for quick and dirty applications with simple scripting languages, and it's not ready for true enterprise IT developers.

"While it's true that PostgreSQL can handle any of the lightweight processing that MySQL was designed for, in reality PostgreSQL is a full-featured open-source database built for high-transaction, highly scalable enterprise applications. Essentially, PostgreSQL and MySQL were designed for two different workloads."

Roger Burkhardt, CEO of the much older, more established Ingres database, believes that Oracle will shape MySQL to fit its business needs-ahead of any community wishes.

"Oracle is going to reshape the MySQL business and channel it in ways that protect its proprietary software business and support its move into hardware," Burkhardt told eWEEK. "Evidence of this is already there: MySQL has removed the migration assets from their Website that would support a move from Oracle to MySQL.

"It was removed in recent weeks to reduce choice for their customers before the deal was approved or closed. Oracle clearly wants to take no risk in cannibalizing their Oracle DBMS business, even though MySQL is a much less capable product."

Burkhardt also said that he understands that MySQL has already stopped reselling and promoting other products based on MySQL that are competitive with Oracle's database offerings.

"The good news is there is a proven alternative to Oracle's database. Ingres has the technology, migration tools and global partners to support smooth migrations from proprietary databases to the benefits of open source," he said.

Florian Mueller, a longtime open-source activist and colleague of MySQL creator Michael "Monty" Widenius, told eWEEK that the EC's decision was "really one of politics."

"Oracle still needs clearance from the Chinese and Russian antitrust authorities, and it's a matter of respect not to consider this process finished until those major jurisdictions have also taken and announced their decisions," Mueller told eWEEK.

"The EC's reasoning has to be reviewed when all the details of the decision are known, but it seems to be a decision based on wishful thinking for the future more so than anything else. PostgreSQL has been around for decades without having had its mainstream breakthrough, so the EC can't seriously claim that PostgreSQL could replace MySQL as a competitive force," Mueller said.

"Forks [derived works based on an existing open-source project] are a legal possibility, but there's no reason to assume that any MySQL fork, or even a number of such forks collectively, could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could."

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify the position of former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos on the Oracle acquisition of Sun.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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