MySQL official emphasizes GPL, improvements

Oracle also eyes Windows focus and LAMP stack accommodations, but will be more tight-lipped about products

MySQL, the open source database now property of Oracle, has stayed the same in such aspects as its availability under the GPL, but some traits will change under its new management. For example, Oracle will be more tight-lipped about product plans, a MySQL official said Thursday.

Devotees of the database also can expect continued improvements in areas such as performance and a stronger emphasis on Windows, said Kaj Arno, vice president of the MySQL community for the still-functioning Sun Microsystems branch in Munich. (Oracle's Sun acquisition has not been completed yet in Germany.)

[ Also on InfoWorld: Oracle took over Sun Java technologies, but Java developers are mostly OK with Oracle so far. ]

By acquiring Sun, Oracle took charge of the MySQL database Sun itself had bought in 2008. Arno's presentation, at the O'Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., intended to focus on the state of the MySQL community but diverged into other topics, including the direction of the product.

"There is still a huge base of MySQL users out there. They have economic interests that are independent of whoever owns MySQL," Arno said.

"MySQL is still licensed under the GPL," Arno stressed.

"We have seen strong, firm, clear statements from Oracle that GPL will continue," he said. Also, a huge talent pool of MySQL experts remain at Oracle and Oracle has its own database talent, such as Vice President Andy Mendelsohn, Arno said.

But MySQL's once free-speaking ways when it came to upcoming products will end.

"The bigger the company, the more care you need to take to follow things like Sarbanes-Oxley," said Arno. "There are going to be stronger corporate controls about what we can say."

Previous predictions, however, were not all that useful anyway, with forecasts of timeliness going unfulfilled, Arno explained.

MySQL improvement goals include both a stronger emphasis on Windows and boosts related to the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Perl/PHP/Python) stack, Arno said. "We will see things in this area," he said. Better ease-of-use is a goal as well.

A respectful relationship with the MySQL community remains a priority, according to Arno. Since the merger was announced nearly a year ago, MySQL users have voiced concerns about the deal. A couple of attendees at the conference Thursday had contrasting views on Oracle's ownership of MySQL.

"I cannot see any business reason that Oracle has to keep MySQL around," said Laurie Voss, tech lead at Snowball Factory, which offers campaign-tracking for social media.

"They're not going to shut it down completely -- that would obviously be a PR disaster. They're just going to marginalize it," Voss said.

"They're going to turn it into like the amateur product, which nobody here believes it is," said Voss. He cited Oracle's intentions to focus on Windows accommodations for MySQL as evidence of plans for marginalization.

Another attendee had a more positive perspective.

"I think [Oracle] will want to support it. They'll have a lot of resources put behind it," said Zack Huston, a developer and database administrator at PaperBackSwap.com, a Website for trading books.

"Shutting it down would just mean there would be another open source competitor that would rise up," said Huston. Voss also expressed sentiments that a product similar to MySQL could emerge.

Earlier in the week at the conference, Edward Screven, Oracle chief architect, cited performance improvements for MySQL. However, he also said some features, such as hot backup, will be in only the commercial edition of MySQL, not the freely downloadable community edition.

Oracle, for its part, already has had open source experience of its own, participating in open source software efforts such as contributions to the Apache Software Foundation, Arno said.

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This story, "MySQL official emphasizes GPL, improvements" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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