Signs of MySQL decline on horizon

MySQL still strong, but for how long?

While Oracle has continued to put effort into its free software MySQL database, there is a noticeable movement within the tech community to shift away from MySQL to other databases like PostgreSQL.

The pattern is subtle, but appears to be there. I spoke with members of the Joomla community last week prior to the release of Joomla 3.0, and though they were careful to frame the added support for PostgreSQL in the latest Joomla release as just fulfilling Joomla's missing to be database-agnostic, there was a clear undertone in the conversation that the content management system's development team was hedging its bets should Oracle decide to drastically change the way it handles MySQL.

Meanwhile, SUSE just released SUSE Manager 1.7 at their SUSEcon event a couple weeks ago, which also featured the additional support for PostgreSQL. And so on.

It should be emphasized that just because some other database is adopted doesn't represent a negative for MySQL. Nor should it invalidate the goodness of PostgreSQL and other databases, which are worthy enough in their own right to earn support on their own.

But the conversations I hear in the open source community are increasingly along the lines of "MySQL is screwed."

Of course, the numbers don't exactly scream rampant failure. I heard Matthew Aslett from the 451 Group address this very topic back at the Open Source Business Conference this spring, and though he was rather sleep-deprived, he initially laid out a pretty good picture for MySQL for something that's failing.

According to a survey conducted by Aslett in Jan/Feb 2012, nearly 80 percent of respondents were still using MySQL as one of their databases in their environments. SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle all had around a 30 percent penetration each among the respondents.

But that's not going to last, Aslett said, as competition from MySQL clones like MariaDB, as well as NoSQL technologies such as Cassandra, CouchDB, and HBase will be pulling attention away from MySQL.

How much of a swing away from MySQL will take place? Aslett's predictions have it falling by 26.4 percent in the enterprise between 2012 and 2017. Even SQL Server's use will only fall by 9.3 percent in the same period.

One survey does not a software's downfall predict, and there's a lot of things that can happen in five years. But this study, coupled with the very pervasive lack of trust for Oracle does not point to a strong future for MySQL.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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