Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Will Oracle Kill Off MySQL?

Sometime ago I asked a number of questions about the implications of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the "owner" of the popular MySQL database and Java programming language. In particular I mused about the potential conflict of interest between Oracle's database and MySQL - the most popular database in the open source world. Would Oracle seek to downgrade MySQL as a potential rival or even allow it to wither on the vine?

 Why should you be worried? Because MySQL is the main database powering the vast majority of dynamic sites on the internet. MySQL is the 'M' in the LAMP hosting stack. Most open source projects such as Joomla, Magento, Drupal, Wordpress, etc, etc, use MySQL as their database. Most hosting companies provide MySQL support but few offer other databases. A closed source MySQL would be hugely disruptive.

 Well, Oracle's recent shenanigans of releasing MySQL bug fixes without test cases is causing renewed concern in the open source world. Without proper test cases developers cannot be sure that bug fixes actually work. This has the effect of removing transparency in the development and quality assurance processes - a key feature of open source software. If Oracle extends this attitude towards Java, then it's really troubling for a huge software ecosystems, not least Google's Android.

 The decision of Joomla's developers to include a PostgreSQL adapter seems like a sensible step and other open source projects are likewise exploring the option of enabling other databases. Its now for hosting companies to step up to the plate and begin offering reasonably priced PostreSQL hosting as an alternative LAMP stack.