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As Oracle axes support for GlassFish, MySQL users might want to pay attention

7897396804_582121fa6e_0.jpgLast 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.

Comments

MySQL's opensource

Why doesn't someone branch off their own open source version of MySQL? It's open source, why not? We need to make sure of two things: number one Oracle doesn't get greedy and number two we have long term ongoing support for mission critical data.

If someone were to put out a MySQL clone it would keep Oracle from trashing MySQL in the meantime. While simultaneously giving developers a chance to add to features and long term support to MySQL without Oracle interfering.

Re: MySQL's opensource

MariaDB is already a fork.

Percona as well.

Some people already have!

As Mike Horvath points out, MariaDB and Percona already have.

Also, significant wind is behind the MariaDB sails with recent announcements such as the one that Google has abandoned MySQL in favor of MariaDB.

Oracle and MySQL

From where we are looking Oracle has been a pretty good Steward of MySQL, investing heavily in R&D and quality, releasing some pretty cool, highly performing versions since it took over.

My concern actually is that if people stop investing in MySQL subscriptions because of the FUD and unfounded rumours, then revenues will dry up. The only thing that can come from that is that the product innovation and investmetn suffers. This impacts commercial users, the community users and the general eco-system.

None of the forks have sufficient financial backing or resources to take on a role like Oracle and we will be back to the bad old days of MySQL AB. Never hitting delivery dates, poor quality and generally dissatisfied users. I say if you get value from using MySQL then invest a little where you can (and what you can afford) to ensure it continues to be the best product it can be, with the investment it deserves.....

yes and no

So yes, Oracle has been spending a lot and investing a lot in MySQL but two things that immediately come to mind in this regard are

(a) having the MySQL part of Oracle Open World on a weekend gives it second class status, and

(b) Oracle continues to keep key things like test suites closed-source (see: http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/18/oracle-makes-more-moves-to-kill-open-source-mysql/)

I think there is cause for apprehension here. The sky isn't falling but there are things that should make one pause and take notice.

Oracle has hundreds of

Oracle has hundreds of engineers working on MySQL and none working on Glassfish. Oracle also has hundreds of sales & marketing folks selling MySQL, and none selling Glassfish. There's really no similarity.

Glassfish is a reference implementation of a standard. Sun was interested in engineering, so it liked that kind of thing. Oracle is interested in products, so it doesn't.

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