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So Oracle Thinks It’s Buying MySQL, Huh

Larry Ellison has bought himself a revolt

Larry Ellison has bought himself a revolt. MySQL refuses to go gentle into Oracle’s uncertain arms.

Monty Widenius, principal author of the original version of the open source database and a founder of the MySQL company that Sun bought last year for a billion dollars, is proposing to wrest control of the widgetry from Oracle.

He has kicked off a “vendor-neutral” consortium called the Open Database Alliance that he envisions being the hub of MySQL development, binaries, derivative code, tools, enhancements as well as training and support provided by a collection of open source companies like Percona, a MySQL services and support firm and co-founder of the consortium.

He has sucked out of Sun all but three of the key MySQL developers who, he says, “understand the whole system,” for his own start-up Monty Program Ab and expects the missing three to join him soon too. He claims their familiarity with the database is irreplaceable.

The rebel group will focus on an enterprise-grade MySQL fork called MariaDB that Widenius prefers to call a branch because it will keep in synch with the official MySQL but add more features. A true fork, he explained, and there are lots of other MySQL forks, would push MySQL is a different direction. If the community rallies around MariaDB, he said, it will head off further MySQL fragmentation.

Widenius sees the effort being like what Fedora is to Red Hat and Oracle as just MySQL’s commercial arm. He claims the MySQL market, both developers and users, even its larger users, don’t trust Oracle.

He says he talked to Oracle and initially offered to help it keep the MySQL’s key people and was blown off. He says Oracle said it didn’t know what it was going to do with MySQL, an open source rival to Oracle’s own database.

Widenius sees himself as defending and protecting the MySQL community, and ensuring MySQL’s future against defections to other open source databases like Postgres.

Widenius is an open source purist and the Open Database Alliance will reflect that philosophy. Everybody will contribute and those that can’t do development will still help shape the specifications and pay for the work. Those that join now will shape its structure.

On his blog, Widenius describes the Alliance as initially being a “thin umbrella” but he expects to hire people to help work out the rules and provide marketing for members.

It is effectively the vision Widenius and David Axmark had when they started MySQL. They planned to create a partner network with MySQL AB, a small technical company, at the center with a lot of partners around it facing the large customers.

He sees this structure as being more agile and responsive than a single big company, even the company that MySQL AB became before its acquisition. And his anti-development experience at Sun, on which he had pinned great hopes, clinched that attitude. In his mind it let a defective 5.1 rev of MySQL get out.

He also says that he’s been contacted by many would-be entrepreneurs looking to set up new businesses to exploit opportunities in the MariaDB/MySQL market. He says they should reach out to his investment company Open Ocean for advice and possible funding.

A month or so ago Patrick Galbraith, a former MySQL senior developer, wondered on his blog “What is the official tree? The project lead is Monty, and if he is now saying MariaDB is the official tree. Does that mean that the tree at Sun is now dead? Open source projects usually have their souls found in whoever personally leads the project, not in who owns the copyright of the name. Monty and Brian certainly are open source leaders, so my inclination is to follow them. This is not a slight to MySQL/Sun either, but a question that me as a both a user and developer of MySQL, as well as a former employee and team member of the MySQL development team.”

See opendatabasealliance.com/ and www.openoceancapital.com/.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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