Paper Beats Scissors, Rock Dodges Mountain

It would be difficult to argue that MySQL isn’t now a true enterprise database. Commercial database vendors must be watching this open-source offering with some nervousness. (See my comments here about MySQL 5).

When faced with stiff competition from an open-source “pretender to the throne”, software vendors tend to do what they believe they’re best positioned to do: pack their product with an endless list of so many things that they don’t just fill the feature checklist but actually spill over the edge and off the end of the table.

An example of this was with Borland, who - threatened by free competition from the likes of NetBeans and Eclipse - bloated out JBuilder with an array of big, marketable features; most of which are unlikely to ever be used by most developers.

Software vendors appear to think that because their "value proposition" is that they can quickly build a hoard of new features, that bloatware must therefore be what the punters really want. Because after all, if punters didn’t want masses of features, what would be the point of paying for software?

Of course, in the IDE world, JetBrains has proved that punters are much more willing to pay for smart, nimble software like IDEA than for bulky, overbloated "bludgeonware".

Back to the database world: Oracle’s database, of course, always has been rather big and bloaty, something which I know puts some developers off of it. It’s entirely possible that the Big O’s response to the new bigger & better MySQL will be to pile yet more features into their own offering – to make it even bigger and even bloatier, even more of a memory and CPU hog.

Hopefully, instead they’ll focus on lightness, speediness and productivity, and use their resources to make a product which is incredibly easy to deploy and configure; not to mention with improved tools interoperability. If Oracle could do this, then the chase would really be on.

The surprise thing is, Oracle just might be taking a step in the right direction! They recently released the beta version of their freebie Oracle 10g Express database, a mere 150MB download. The "payware" version is still a whopper, but it's a good sign nonetheless. With this move, Oracle is obviously looking beyond MySQL and going head-to-head with MS SQL Server 2005. I’ll take a look at 10g Express in a couple of days.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.