Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Dawn Fades as Sun goes down

Oracle, the database software vendor, has bought Sun Microsystems. Sun specialised in server hardware and software, but was also behind the Java programming language and various Java related tools and initiatives. Fairly recently Sun had also bought MySQL, the open source database.

So, what are the consequences for us of this acquisition? Well, most open source software uses MySQL as the primary database. Joomla!, Zen-Cart, Magento - to name just three - all use MySQL as the default database. You can add Drupal, and virtually every other open source project to this list.

The key question then is, will Oracle continue to support MySQL or will it allow it to wither as a direct competitor? Is MySQL actually considered to be a competitor by Oracle? The answer to this question will no doubt be a key influence on Oracle's eventual decision.

This decision has consequences for most of us, either directly or indirectly. If our business, website, etc, use open source software, then we may be faced in the future with having to change our database if MySQL goes down. The obvious open source candidate to replace MySQL is Postgress, considered superior by many. However, it is not clear how widespread is the hosting provision for Postgress - almost all hosting plans offer MySQL as a very affordable option, yet Postgress is still not offered by most hosting companies.

There is the real possibility that a fair proportion of open source software will have to be tweaked to use another database (Postgress) and that is again problematical if Postgress provision is limited.

Almost certainly Oracle's acquisition of Sun means we'll see, 'A change of scene, a change of style' with regards to the open source landscape. Whether we'll benefit from this is yet another question.
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