Oracle Publicly Commits to MySQL

MySQL OracleOracle’s plans for acquiring Sun have been on hold since April 2009. Although the US Department of Justice approved the deal, the European Commission formally objected. This week, MySQL creator Michael Widenius also put out an urgent call to save MySQL from Oracle’s clutches. His reasons:

  • Rather than working with the EU, Oracle contacted hundreds of customers and asked them to write a letter of ‘unconditional acceptance’ to the EC.
  • A strong MySQL has few benefits, whereas a weaker MySQL could be worth more than one billion dollars to Oracle.
  • Oracle had not made any promises to keep all of MySQL under an open source license, retain current support pricing structures, regularly release new editions, work with the community, or add features that could make it more competitive with enterprise databases.
  • Oracle’s begrudgingly updated the InnoDB engine and Sun eventually forked the project.

In response, the company has finally issued a press release outlining their intentions for MySQL. Oracle’s 5-year public commitments include:

  1. To maintain and enhance MySQL’s Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture and documentation.
  2. Change Sun’s current policy so third party storage engine vendors will not need to release code under the GPL.
  3. Offer commercial license holders an extension of their agreement with Sun under the same terms and conditions until 2014.
  4. Continue to enhance MySQL and create subsequent versions under the GPL. The Enterprise and Community editions will receive the same enhancements.
  5. Oracle support services will not become mandatory.
  6. MySQL research and development funding will be increased.
  7. Within 6 months, Oracle will create and fund a customer advisory board which includes end users and customers. It will provide guidance and feedback on MySQL priorities and other important issues.
  8. Within 6 months, Oracle will create and fund a Storage Engine Vendor advisory board to provide guidance and feedback on MySQL priorities.
  9. Oracle will continue to maintain, update, and provide a freely-available MySQL Reference Manual.
  10. Customers paying for support will be able to renew their subscriptions on an annual or multi-year basis.

Florian Mueller, an adviser to Michael Widenius, called Oracle’s statement “cosmetic”. However, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes stated she is “optimistic that the case will have a satisfactory outcome” and Oracle’s commitments were “an important new element to be taken into account in the ongoing proceedings”.

It’s possible the EU will want further guarantees, but the Oracle-Sun deal appears to have a greater chance of succeeding. It could occur before the year end.

Are you reassured by Oracle’s statements? Do you share Michael Widenius’ concerns?

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  • Richard Lynch

    As Monty points out, this is not much of a promise to do anything substantive, nor is it binding in any way if they renege…

    I still don’t think letting Oracel buy the MySQL bit is a Good Idea.

    Maybe they should just sell off MySQL — or give it back to Monty. :-)

  • NetNerd85

    Are you reassured by Oracle’s statements?

    Nope.

    Oracle will continue to maintain, update, and provide a freely-available MySQL Reference Manual.

    A free manual? oh gee thanks! Just the manual ey? What about the tools like Workbench (which is brilliant btw)

  • Eric Ndiku Musyoki

    It is a no brainer that Oracle will seek to kill MySQL; albeit slowly. Oracle should thus not be allowed to acquire MySQL. It is a shame the US authorities allowed the deal to go through. It is time people stood for something more than just money and more money. We in the open source movement realized this a long time ago. MySQL has been instrumental in the growth of web based innovation. Do we really want to trade this off for money? The fate of MySQL now lies with the EC, as they make this decision they should understand that history will judge them harshly if they allow this deal to sail through. The so called commitments by Oracle are a SHAM.

  • Ben

    How does anyone read this and not get the impression that MySQL’s open source days are going to be done? There is commitment to maintain documentation, but no statement about releasing further versions. In fact they are taking away the restriction of making storage engine’s GPL.

  • Anonymous

    The real question, however, is what kind of sanctions can be placed on Oracle if they fail to meet the public commitments they’ve made. How will the EU potentially back up the fact that Oracle made these promises?

  • http://www.mjswebsolutions.com type0

    I absolutely share Michael Widenius’ concerns, especially how this will play out in the US.

    I have a bad feeling, knowing Oracle, that anyone using MySQL will now have to pay for it and it may not remain truly open source.

  • Joe

    Well it is all under the GPL today isn’t it? So can’t the community simply fork and support it if it does go off the deep end? I thought that was the whole point/assurance of open source, particularly the GPL. They can’t ‘take back’ the released sourced code.

  • PCSpectra

    I use MySQL exclusively so if it disappeared it would really screw me, but I can’t help but see a contradiction in the original authors statements.

    Michael Widenius, if you created MySQL to be open source, how in the hell did this fiasco even occur? Greed maybe. The same kind being excersized by Oracle, but on a larger scale.

    I`m not an expert on the subject but it seems to me, MySQL AB was founded to profit off of MySQL, and profit they did when they sold out to Sun, which was later swallowed by Oracle.

    Big fish, eat smaller fish, eats smallest fish…

    Open Source it would seem is not the altruistic movement so many people seem to think it is, it`s simply less greedy than proprietary business model.

    Again I dunno, I`m not an expert but if open source was so important to the original authors, and the existance of MySQL is or was that critical, why in the hell did you sell out in the first place. Now it`s been passed through several hands and he has the tenacity to complain Oracle selling out by potentially dropping the competitive product from it`s own line of existing systems.

    Makes a lot of business sense if you ask me, smart move, touche!!!

    Don`t proft from open source, then complain when someone buys you out and squashes your product to remove the competition, so they to can profit.

    Cheers,
    Alex

  • Jonathan

    If Oracle kills off MySQL why can’t we just move to PostgreSQL instead?

  • W2ttsy

    im still trying to understand why they would even kill it off? so many small companies and individuals are using one of their potential products and would continue to use it and some paid products in the future. If you look at spring source for example, they have an open source product, but charge for training seminars and tested deployment environments. Ideally they should be creating a transition plan so that users can upgrade to oracle db when mysql becomes to unsuitable for their needs.

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    MySQL will come out alright no matter what happens. Sun’s employees, however, need this buyout to happen. The longer it is held up by MySQL concerns, the more likely they are to lose their jobs.

  • PCSpectra

    Even if Oracle said they were converting MySQL into a low-cost alternative to their Enterprise solutions I would be OK with that. I don’t mind paying just nothing outside the reality of small business, like a couple hundrend bucks for a domain-wide license or similar.

  • willthiswork

    If Oracle kills off MySQL why can’t we just move to PostgreSQL instead?

    and after Oracle will one day kill PostgreSQL why can’t we just move to Sqlite, until one day Oracle buys it as well and we can happily go back to access. What sort of question is it?

    The real question, however, is what kind of sanctions can be placed on Oracle if they fail to meet the public commitments they’ve made. How will the EU potentially back up the fact that Oracle made these promises?

    Well the same that can be applied to Microsoft for instance.

    Honestly guys some of you lack basic knowledge of the topic to an extent that is even difficult to discuss with you.
    Please read
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competition_law
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Community_competition_law
    and then comeback.

    Concerns over mergers and acquisitions is a basic exercise of democracy and those activities are regulated in both the USA and Europe since years.
    “Supervising the mergers and acquisitions of large corporations, including some joint ventures. Transactions that are considered to threaten the competitive process can be prohibited altogether, or approved subject to “remedies” such as an obligation to divest part of the merged business or to offer licenses or access to facilities to enable other businesses to continue competing”.

    Exactly as Widenius asks.

    It is not some weird communist nostalgia, it is the pillars free-market and fair competition is based upon.
    Don’t you like european anti-trust regulations? Then just don’t do business here.

  • Aragond

    This is bad for competition. It is bad for the web. It is bad for the general IT world. Oracle have been circling the world, like the Borg, acquiring everything that IBM don’t already own. Eventually, the IT world will consist of Microsoft, IBM and Oracle and surely even the EU can see this isn’t a good state of affairs.
    .
    MySQL is one of the single best inventions around, the basis for far too much on the web, presently, to be allowed to be crushed in Oracle’s fist. I like Oracle’s RDBMS, but, no, it is not a viable new basis for the web if for no other reason than the sheer expense of it.
    .
    But, expect the EU, like all political bodies, to be satisfied with nice words from Oracle. There is no hope for the web. The corporations were destined to ruin it.

  • http://www.GOPalmer.co.uk GOPalmer

    I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Like Dan Grossman, MySQL will do alright whatever the outcome. If worst comes to worst forks like http://askmonty.org/wiki/index.php/MariaDB will surely take over where MySQL has left off.

  • Vance Dubberly

    Well given there are very large organizations with an interest in the continuation of MySQL, for instance Google. Even is oracle stops development the current codebase can be forked. The real danger is that Oracle muddy development, slow things down, or intentionally bloat, dumb-down, or orther-wise sabotage the product. Such behavior would divide the community and make a simple “fork” a long drawn out nightmare.

    On the plus side, I really like Postgresql better anyway.

  • http://icoland.com/ glenngould

    In every industry, there are a handful of giants dominating that industry. This cannot be regulated by any law, all regulations will remain cosmetic. In fact law is defined by themselves in the long run. Now how is this free-market? Free-market don’t exist, never existed. Wake up!

  • http://codefisher.org/ codefisher

    Its open source! If Oracle messes MySQL up, someone will branch and start a new fork. Oracle would know that. I would guess they would rather have it under their control, then have someone else run off with it even if it is not particularly profitable.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    Are you reassured by Oracle’s statements?

    Nope…. If the US DOJ is willing to turn a blind eye to it then it’s up to the EU to keep them in line. Nothing in their statement gives me the slightest confidence that they won’t bury it.

    Do you share Michael Widenius’ concerns?

    Absolutely!

  • willthiswork

    This cannot be regulated by any law, all regulations will remain cosmetic. In fact law is defined by themselves in the long run.

    This is actually regulated by a lot of laws (please read and inform yourself).
    But laws themselves will never be enough, it takes a community of informed and vocal individuals to put pressure on politicians and corporations to abide them. At least to some extent.
    Want an example? Look at Firefox. Until a few years ago, Microsoft claimed they were the standard so they were not supposed to give a damn about standards, until a bunch of geeks came out with a better product, a vocal community of users supported it and Microsoft pressured (also) by politicians had to concede.
    Market regulating itself is an outdated phantasy, nobody takes for serious any longer. Not to mention big corporations acting in an ethical way or working for society wealth.

    I would guess they would rather have it under their control, then have someone else run off with it even if it is not particularly profitable.

    This is expressly forbidden by laws. Once again guys, please read and inform.