|MySQL, YourSQL, OurSQL, TheirSQL?|
|Written by JLangbridge|
|Thursday, 23 April 2009 18:53|
In the wonderful world of Open Source, there have been a lot of changes recently. Changes come everyday, but this change is so big that a lot of developers are blue, holding their breath.
Sun Microsystems has been a major name in the business for years. I can remember a few Sun machines I've had in the past; SparcStations and of course Sun thin clients. I've loved their machines, I've loved their robustness and their adaptability. Their operating system, Solaris, has been a reference for many, many years, and their initiatives for OpenSolaris have been exceptional. I almost switched to OpenSolaris about a year ago, but there were a few applications that I just couldn't live without, so it remained on a virtual machine. Which virtual machine? Sun VirtualBox.
Sun doesn't stop there. Sun is a major player in tape backup systems, and is also a key player in the cloud computing sector, even if they haven't capetalised on their technology. Now comes a well known name, Java... Love it or hate it, Java is everywhere and is one of the most sought after technologies. Then comes MySQL.
The financial situation is a surprise to nobody, practically everyone on the planet is feeling it right now, in one way or another. IBM has been talking to Sun for some time now, and has shown interest in buying Sun, but the previous talks didn't go too well. People told IBM to not be harsh on Sun, and that Sun doesn't react well when bullied, but no-one expected this. Oracle bought Sun, under everyone's nose. Steve Balmer had to "sit down and think" about Oracle's move, and if Microsoft didn't see it coming, then not a lot of people would.
Oracle is very well known for their database application, and they have a reputation for being very, very good. The question is, why would Oracle want to buy Sun? Simple, really. Oracle, a well known software company, now has access to hardware, datacenters and some advanced R&D. Imagine an Oracle server on some advanced Intel hardware from Sun, in a Sun datacenter, with Sun backup solutions. Oracle has just entered the world of software services; you don't even need your own servers, potentially, you could just rent a database from Oracle.
Now comes MySQL... Whilst MySQL might be one of the most popular free solutions out there, MySQL is also a good business database, and Sun has just announced new versions of MySQL. So, MySQL could be considered somewhat as a competitor. With Oracle now owning MySQL, that would mean one of three things. Either Oracle kills MySQL (by not maintaining it or not adding to it), or they sell it to another company, or third solution, they embrace MySQL and add it to their own, whilst preserving the Open Source factor. I think that we are all hoping that Oracle embraces the Open Source community, bt Oracle has a lot to learn about Open Source, and that part worries me.
Michael Widenius, the original MySQL developer and creator, has an interesting open letter to Oracle, Michael Widenius doesn't think that an Open Source project can really belong to anyone, Patrick Galbraith believes that Open Source "belongs" to the person who can provide the best services, and that service is normally bandwidth. Some would argue that the Open Source project belongs to the lead programmer, who, if needed, can always fork a version and work on a new version. And maybe that's what will happen?
The subject came up at work today, since we use MySQL extensively. What will happen? Will MySQL continue to grow, or should we start looking at PostgreSQL? We all have high hopes, but we are all looking at the emergency exits, just in case. For me, the biggest threat would be Oracle killing a competitor. For Michael Widenius, the biggest threat would be people leaving Sun/Oracle in mass and the different developers going their own way, dispersing the know-how and setting the MySQL project back years. As with anything, time will tell!