Last week Oracle ended support for GlassFish, the Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) 7 Server. As Steven J Vaughan-Nichols reporting on ZDNet wrote, this is not the first time that Oracle has dropped support for an open source product that was purchased as part of the Sun deal in 2009.
Since that purchase in fact, Oracle has dropped support for OpenOffice and OpenSolaris, but it begs the question, could MySQL, the open source database purchased as part of the Sun deal be next?
Certainly, nobody wants to spread FUD around an issue like this, but it's worth raising the question and it could explain why companies like Google are in the process of dumping MySQL in favor of MariaDB, as we wrote in this blog earlier this year.
And of course, Oracle has played hardball with Java too (another Sun goodie) suing Google over several lines of code in Android and sending the Java development community into a tizzy over it. Oracle lost, but the battle continues in Appeals Court. This in spite of the fact that many experts believe Oracle is simply wrong in its assertion in the copyright case.
The lawsuit in itself could explain why Google wants nothing to do with a database like MySQL, open source or not, which is controlled by Oracle, and has decided to move onto to a safer and more open alternative.
Certainly since Oracle purchased Sun and its cache of open source riches, Oracle has not proven to be a trusting steward of these properties to this point, and if you are a MySQL user it has to give you pause, just as it did for Google (which had all of the other clash of the technology titans baggage going on as well).
But digging deeper, it could be that Oracle is not being stubborn here at all. It's just making good business decisions based on popularity and sales. In an April, 2011 article on PCworld explaining the decision to drop OpenOffice, quotes from Oracle officials suggest it was a business decision. OpenOffice had not proven popular enough to continue its support. MySQL had --plain and simple. As Oracle spokesperson Edward Scriven, quoted in the post, put it, "Oracle is focused on Linux and MySQL because both of these products have won broad based adoption among commercial and government customers," he said. In other words, we can make money from them because they have more business.
That in itself could be telling though because perhaps as we saw this week with GlassFish, Oracle, which has had less than stellar earnings reports over the last couple of years, could be looking for ways to cut out some of the products that are sucking internal resources, but not contributing positively to the bottom line of the company.
Under those circumstances, certainly as long as MySQL pulls its weight, Oracle will continue to support it, but you have to wonder given its previous track record, if under the right circumstances, it might decide to transition any of its open source products including MySQL back to the community when it no longer served its purposes.
There is no sign of that right now, but given its previous decisions about the Sun open source catalog of products, you have to at least be thinking about it.
Photo Credit: dvanzuijlekom on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.