January 5, 2010 1 Comment
It is very frustrating to watch Oracle’s acquisition of SUN make its way through regulatory approval as a small band of MySQL users are attempting to use the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” principal to disrupt the process. This has led to over 14,000 MySQL users signing a petition to the EU opposing Oracle’s acquisition of SUN.
The ring leader of this effort is none other than the founder and creator of MySQL, Michael “Monty” Widenius. Monty, and others, are deathly afraid that Oracle will effectively do one or more of the following; freeze development/bug fixes, change the current MySQL licensing, attempt to migrate MySQL customers to Oracle’s proprietary database, or ignore the community wishes and limit developers ability to improve MySQL’s capabilities that would lead to more direct competition with Oracle’s proprietary database.
As with any acquisition, the employees or in this case the community have legitimate reasons for concern. Oracle is a development/engineering/marketing/sales machine that dominates the database industry. Additionally, until Oracle closes this acquisition they have and will remain relatively quiet or ambiguous about SUN‘s (MySQL) future.
Some users point to Oracle’s acquisition of Innobase as the primary reason for concern of MySQL’s future. However, this acquisition took place in 2005 and was Oracle’s “warning shot” to MySQL. Why? Innobase was the creator of InnoDB that provides the underlying code for the InnoDB storage engine in MySQL. In 2005, Oracle and many ISVs were unsure of the competitive threats derived from open source software products such as MySQL. Leave it to Larry Ellison to find a way to defend his turf while sending a definitive message to the open source community. Today, ISVs like Oracle have come-to-terms with open source software and strive to be active in both the proprietary and open source domains.
In the end, it’s hard to feel sorry for Monty and the other Executives of MySQL AB. Lost in all these discussions and protests is the fact that MySQL AB sold out to SUN for a cool $1 Billion. MySQL had a choice; sell out or continue as an independent company. MySQL AB could have raised capital, purchased Innobase, and continued building a world-class open source database. Instead, altruistic intentions gave way to dollar bills.
The saga of MySQL serves as a reminder to all Open Source Software Projects and Communities that there is no free lunch; ultimately the software code and rights are owned by an individual or an entity. The decisions made by these individuals or entities effect community members, contributors, and users on many levels; emotionally, financially, etc. Today, I worry about many Open Source Projects that reside within SUN and other groups.
MySQL AB made their bed, now lie in it with Oracle.