Oracle to Answer Questions on MySQL, but Will It Be Enough?

Oracle exec Edward Screven plans to outline the company's strategy for MySQL at the O'Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo, and analysts say Oracle has important questions to answer.

Oracle officials know they have some questions to answer about the road map for MySQL, and they plan to use the O'Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo next week to do it.

At the conference, which will be held from April 12 to 15 in Santa Clara, Calif., Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven is expected to discuss the company's plans as well as the role open source is playing in heterogeneous environments. Both before and since Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January, there has been no shortage of speculation about Oracle's intentions and what the impact of the deal will be on customers.

According to Oracle, Screven will touch on both those topics during his conference keynote April 13.

"MySQL is strategic to Oracle and we are making investments to further develop, promote and support the MySQL products," Screven said in a statement. "We're looking forward to outlining our plans for MySQL and providing the development community with deeper insight into the enhancements they can expect right now and moving forward."

Much of the concern in the user community has centered on whether Oracle will curtail development of MySQL in favor of the traditional Oracle database, as well as whether or the company would stay true to MySQL's open-source roots.

"We know [MySQL AB co-founder Monty Widenius] went to war with Oracle over the merger with a fear campaign about how bad it could be, so the community is primed to observe whether Oracle does what Monty fears, or not," Paul Vallee, executive chairman of remote database services provider Pythian, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. "And the entrepreneurs behind the forks will be seeking chinks in Oracle's armor in order to seize any advantage to get their companies off the ground."

In 2009, while the Sun acquisition was still pending approval from the European Commission, Oracle released a list of 10 promises to address user concerns, including pledges to increase spending on research and development and continue making the database available under the GPL (general public license).

Now that the dust has settled on the licensing debate, MySQL customers can concentrate on bigger issues surrounding the product itself, such as pricing and the development plans for the InnoDB and Falcon storage engines, opined Matt Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group.

Oracle also needs to answer questions about support for MySQL with its array of applications and middleware, and communicate some of the ways the company will look to innovate, Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna told eWEEK. So far, he said, Oracle has not done a good job of talking about MySQL's road map, and many organizations are waiting to decide whether to stay on with MySQL or move on to alternatives like PostgreSQL, Ingres or MonetDB.

"We have already gotten a dozen inquiries from Fortune 500 companies that are now seriously looking at PostgreSQL or Ingres," Yuhanna explained. "For many organizations, the MySQL conference will be a focal point on building their DBMS strategy. Oracle needs to do a good job at the MySQL conference [of talking] about their strategy ... or else could see a major migration movement happening in the coming years."