Oracle Reassures Developers about Future of MySQL

Oracle Corporation will increase its investment in the open-source MySQL database it acquired with its purchase of Sun Microsystems, and it has already begun to make improvements to the software. So said Oracle's chief software architect, Edward Screven, during his "State the Dolphin" keynote address at the annual MySQL Conference and Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.

"We are going to continue to develop, promote and support MySQL," he said, adding, "It's worth it to Oracle to invest in MySQL, and we're making it better. Not at some abstract point in the future, but today."

Screven pointed to the beta of MySQL 5.5, which he claimed improves performance by more than 200 percent and improves recovery times by more than a factor of 10. He added that semi-synch replication and more partitioning will be integrated in MySQL 5.5, and he assured the crowd that Oracle will maintain MySQL Server's pluggable storage engine architecture -- the enterprise and community editions will ship with the same code.

Oracle also announced the release of MySQL Cluster 7.1 at the show, and Screven cited Oracle's investment in that release, as well as MySQL Workbench 5.2 and MySQL Enterprise Monitor 2.2, as further proof of the company's commitment.

Screven also made the case that Oracle is just open-source friendly in general. Open source has long been an import part of Oracle's product offerings, he said. He cited the company's extensive investment in and involvement with the Java platform, the Apache Web server, the Xen hypervisor, the Linux OS, the PHP scripting language and the Eclipse platform, among others.

"There's a lot of great stuff out there that's open source," he said. "By using open source… and delivering it to our customers … we speed up time to innovation. We get to take advantage of all the great work that's happening out there in the community. We also contribute work back. And we want developers to use our products, and developers like open source."

"MySQL is part of Oracle's open strategy that drives our entire company," he said.

But Roger Burkhardt, CEO of Ingres, an open source database company and Oracle competitor, warned that Oracle can't be trusted with MySQL. In an apparently widely circulated e-mail, Burkhardt wrote:

"Oracle has already cut back the MySQL road map to avoid competing with its own database management system and will try and attract MySQL developers onto a path to costly proprietary software and vendor lock-ins. MySQL lacks the enterprise grade strength and features required to actually run Oracle's own applications in production and they won't add these capabilities. They will use MySQL and Glassfish as open source ‘window dressing' to try and divert the threat from capable open source technologies such as Ingres and JBOSS, to their overpriced database and application server software."

Another critic of Oracle's stewardship of MySQL, Michael "Monty" Widenius, main author of the original MySQL and one of the creators of the MariaDB fork of the database, was on hand at the conference to provide his first keynote in five years.

"MySQL is an ecosystem, not just a company," Widenius said. He said that all the different branches of MySQL and the different companies have to work together to contribute code to a common 'trunk.'"

"You need to have lots of people outside inside to get something that is both developer and company driven," he said. "The best possible database you can get is when you have people who are using the code also developing it. The only way to do that is to have developers everywhere."

"There has been a lot of movement in the MySQL space this year," he added. "Lots of people have been changing jobs. Most of the MySQL executives from Sun have changed jobs. But what makes me happy is that we have been able to keep engineers in the [MySQL] ecosystems."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].