By Kevin Waterson

I received an email recently from MySQL regarding new MySQL training. In reply I stated that due to concerns about the direction MySQL was taking in closed source releases, and some features only being made available in the Enterprise package, we would be moving our companies servers, and client servers we manage, over to PostgreSQL.

I have been a long time advocate of MySQL and was surprised at the direction SUN are taking with it. Sure they need to make money, but does it need to be at the expense of the community that put MySQL into the market position it now enjoys.

Many contributors to the MySQL source code are aggrieved that their good work, freely given, has now been put outside their control and that the benefits of contributing to an open source project will not flow back to them, and instead, be locked away to be sold off with the proceeds flowing directly to SUN.

Of course, SUN need to realize a profit on their investment with MySQL and need to have a product. Have they not learned anything from the Open Source community. We give freely, and benefit from support contracts, or from other revenue raising initiatives, not from closing up the source and simply selling that as the product. This is a very 1990's approach to marketing that SUN have yet to break clear of.

In response to my email to MySQL I was pointed to a blog link that was "much closer to reality". The blog item heads up with "Give MySQL a break please" as if we should be feeling some sort of pity for their current turmoil regarding this issue. "Why don’t you all give MySQL a break here please?" it begs further on and then cites that they are within their rights, as the source writer, to choose whatever license they please.

This point has never been in contention, nor has the right of an individual, or company to make some bucks from open source projects, it is the bread and butter for many of us and the reason many are now migrating to PostgreSQL to avoid a possible lockout from SUN to the freely available, feature rich, version of MySQL.

The PostgreSQL database has several commercial spin-off such as Greenplum and EnterpriseDB, but these companies who build on top of the PgSQL database product, do not own the source code to it, as does SUN own MySQL. There can be no closing of source, or selective feature releases as they do not control these aspects. These companies are free to add whatever functionality, in a closed source manner, and call it whatever they will. It should also be noted that Greenplum teamed up with SUN to produce a Data Warehouse Appliance.

People are migrating sooner rather than later to avoid just this scenario. Questions asked of me such as:

  • How do you keep growing?
  • How do you keep paying more open source developers?
  • How do you pay for the millions of web hits each day?
  • How do you pay for the millions of downloads, the Tera bytes of Internet traffic?
  • How do you guarantee your long term survival?
  • How do you strike a balance between commercial success and widespread open source adoption?
  • How do you keep your investors happy as well as your community?

If SUN has not done their homework on answering these questions before purchasing MySQL then the future of MySQL is sealed and does not look too bright. And if the only open source model they can bring to bear is closing the source in any form, then the open source community reserves the same freedoms as SUN/MySQL in adhering to their own values and choosing an open source alternative.

For a peek at the original blog posting by Matt Casters, pop along to http://www.ibridge.be/?p=110 and see my response to his initial posting.