PostgreSQL Community Ponders Effect of MySQL Acquisition

Members of the PostgreSQL community react to the purchase of MySQL by Sun Microsystems.

When Sun Microsystems announced it was putting $1 billion up for MySQL AB, members of the other open source database community - PostgreSQL - also took notice.

For the past few years, Sun has been a major backer of PostgreSQL, packaging, distributing and supporting a version of the open-source database and some of its associated tools with Solaris. Though officials at Sun were careful to say they are planning to continue their support for PostgreSQL, a day after the announcement, some members of the PostgreSQL community were still deciding how exactly Sun's move would affect them.

"It's hard to say," said Selena Deckelmann, leader of the Portland PostgreSQL Users Group. "Sun has shown their commitment to open source over the past few years, and their purchase of MySQL AB seems to strengthen that commitment."

To Bruce Momjian, lead integrator for the PostgreSQL project, the key difference between PostgreSQL and MySQL has been that the PostgreSQL project was truly community-oriented; there was no vendor driving it as a vehicle to distribute software.

"If we look at the panorama of companies that we have involved in Postgres, Sun was a big player, but not a huge one," he said. "There's not a huge impact in having a little less resources from them."

Still, the $1 billion purchase of MySQL, which has been much more widely adopted, could result in less of a focus on PostgreSQL as Sun looks to tap into the MySQL installed base to leverage its OpenSolaris, Java and its Web economy strategy, Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna said.

Read more about Sun's buyout of MySQL.

"With MySQL's acquisition, PostgreSQL will definitely get a lower focus at Sun, even though it's likely to continue [to] be supported by Sun," he said. "PostgreSQL now needs to find a major vendor to further increase its adoption to compete against MySQL. Fujitsu has in the past offered support for PostgreSQL mainly in Australia and Asia, [and] should now look at options to increase their support in [the] U.S. and Europe."

In the meantime, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Jan. 16 his company was committed to finding ways to optimize and integrate innovations across the two open-source communities.

Those opportunities are out there, just as long as Sun is committed to strengthening its product line across open-source databases, said Robert Treat, database architect for OmniTI Computer Consulting in Columbia, Md.

"There are a number of DBA tools and applications that MySQL has in its product line up that could be open sourced and ported to make them cross-database compatible, which I think would have a lot of upside for the PostgreSQL community," Treat said.

"Even if there is no direct cross-database work being done, Sun now has the resources and incentive to improve its operating system pieces - Solaris, ZFS, Dtrace, etc. - specifically for the task of supporting databases' needs, many of which should be helpful for any database and especially one like PostgreSQL that likes to leverage the operating system it runs on."