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MySQL is the “M” behind the ever popular LAMP web development stack. In many ways, MySQL was a pioneer in creating a business from an open source product. The MySQL company owned the copyrights to the code and provided MySQL under a dual licensing model. When Sun Microsystems purchased MySQL, it seemed like a great match. Sun understood open source with a number of projects of their own. However, the recent purchase of Sun by Oracle has set open source advocates on edge. Will this deal mark an impending doom for the legendary open source database system?

There has already been a lot written speculating on Oracle’s intentions for MySQL. The general consensus has been that Oracle has no intention of killing MySQL. The belief is that because MySQL is used so widely for developing web applications, Oracle sees it as an entry level product that they can use to eventually sell up customers to Oracle’s enterprise products. MySQL is a very capable database but its replication and scalability features lag far behind those of Oracle’s enterprise products. Oracle believes that it can use this to its benefit by offering its commercial products as a solution to growing scalability headaches with MySQL.

While this view that Oracle’s business benefits from MySQL makes sense, there are some deeper issues that affect MySQL’s future. Oracle must achieve a number of goals to keep MySQL moving forward and to utilize it as an entry-level product. Oracle must retain the talent needed to keep MySQL in the lead and it must engage the open-source community. Finally, it must convince the open source purists that it understands and supports the open source model. Let’s look at each of these in detail to see how Oracle is stacking up.

The first goal Oracle needs to meet is retaining the necessary talent to keep MySQL as the leading database for web development.

Unfortunately, it seems that Oracle has already failed that challenge. Citing dissatisfaction over the priorities set for MySQL and a desire to refactor much of MySQL’s code, the key developers including MySQL’s co-founder Monty Widenius have left to pursue their own project. That project is a fork of MySQL.

The second goal is to engage the open-source community. After all, MySQL has benefited from the contributions of the open source community over the years. To really keep MySQL alive Oracle has to show that they are serious about taking input from the community and not abusing the free code that they receive. Again, Oracle has so far failed at this. They have announced their intentions for the OpenSolaris project and it is apparent that they do not intend to engage that community. In fact, there is now an open source fork of that project called Illumos.

The third goal is where Oracle has failed most spectacularly though. That goal is convincing the open source purists that they understand open source and are serious about being part of the community. Oracle’s recent lawsuit against Google over patents for Java has probably done more damage to Oracle’s image in the open source community since SCO filed its poorly thought out suit against IBM. This lawsuit has rocked the open source community and has many calling to fork all Oracle open source products and move as quickly as possible away from any Oracle product. The suit makes clear that Oracle does not understand open source and is willing to use patents aggressively.

At the beginning of this article, we asked the question whether Oracle will kill MySQL. Many business writers have made the case that Oracle would never do that because MySQL is a valuable business asset which they can use to upsell customers to their enterprise products. However, these business thinkers were considering a different question. They were answering the question “will Oracle intentionally kill off MySQL?”. What they did not arrive at is that Oracle could unintentionally kill MySQL. MySQL could be unintentionally killed by antagonizing the open-source community and using patents in a way that created fear, uncertainty, and doubt about using MySQL. Oracle’s lawsuit against Google has done this. What do you think?

Michael Dorf is a professional software architect and instructor with a M.S. in Software Engineering and 12 years of industry experience. He teaches for LearnComputer! (learncomputer.com), which offers public and onsite instructor-led PHP and MySQL training courses. Whether you prefer to sign up for our PHP/MySQL course or just read an article on best PHP books, you will find many useful resources on our website.

Article source: http://mysql.ezinemark.com/will-oracle-kill-mysql-17ab4f5a152.html.

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