First of all, I want to link to a blog article written by the founder of MySQL to help MySQL being rescued – everybody can stand up and tell the European Commision why the Oracle/Sun deal threatens MySQL. Second, due to a personal request, I want to make clear that this posting reflects my personal opinion of the case.
Third, I have been thinking about the markets both database systems address and why MySQL really competes to Oracle in one way or another. There are several voices who claimed that MySQL is not a competitor to Oracle, but if you know „Project Peter“, Sun (the current owner of the trademark MySQL and its source code) targets Oracle customers in order to convince them migrating to MySQL.
For a long time, I have been watching the rise of MySQL (since 1994 or 1995, I don’t remember the exact date anymore). It’s not only because myself and our company works mainly with PHP (the scripting language of the Web) and uses mainly MySQL (the database for the Web, although other „database“ architectures like NoSQL become popular nowadays) … I remember back in 2000 when I was maintaining the PHP-Center (together with Ralf Geschke), Germany’s first portal where developers could find news, job listing, articles, case studies etc around PHP in German language. At this time, MySQL invited several luminaries and community members including myself to a meeting in Germany where we discussed the new German website and also the idea to create a subsidiary of MySQL AB for Germany (which was later known as the MySQL GmbH).
At this time, MySQL mainly targeted smaller and middle web applications, web sites like microsites for consumer goods, content management systems and the like. Back then, the so called „Enterprise Market“ wasn’t really a target as Oracle, DB2 and others were deep inside the Enterprise and had features MySQL couldn’t compete with.
But in the last decade, MySQL’s feature set grew continuously. It didn’t grow that much so that it could replace database systems like Oracle. And also, if you look today at the feature sets of MySQL and Oracle, there’s a clear difference between them although in some cases MySQL can compete in terms of database size, transaction handling, online backups and the like.
But something has changed in other areas in the last 10 years: the Web has been arriving into the Enterprise. Large customers thought about switching from terminal or desktop apps to web technologies like PHP, and this transition is going on until today and the future. The Web is everywhere – and with it there’s also a fair chance that there’s PHP and there’s MySQL.
Enterprises are looking for cheaper IT infrastructure. With web architecture, they do not only get scalable systems. They are also thinking if they really need an Oracle or DB2 for their systems – or if a PHP5/MySQL5 would suffice their needs. And I can’t believe that Oracle’s sales force would sell MySQL subscriptions into the Enterprise in these cases if Oracle would own MySQL.
Please don’t get me wrong: there are many areas where MySQL does not compete with an Oracle, but due to this transition to the web there are also many many situations where MySQL could become a great choice for an Enterprise customer.
And this is one of the reasons why MySQL must not be owned by Oracle – to give Enterprises a chance to make the transition to web architecture and cheaper infrastructure.