Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
4/24/2009
11:56 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Hold Your Breath And Say 'Sun!'

A good deal of the noise over the Oracle/Sun acquisition centered around what would happen to all the flagship software products on Sun's side -- OpenSolaris, Java, MySQL. Look no further than Monty Widenus, the original MySQL developer and founder of MySQL AB itself, for the word on that -- and the word is, frankly, not good.

A good deal of the noise over the Oracle/Sun acquisition centered around what would happen to all the flagship software products on Sun's side -- OpenSolaris, Java, MySQL. Look no further than Monty Widenus, the original MySQL developer and founder of MySQL AB itself, for the word on that -- and the word is, frankly, not good.

Earlier in the week, Monty noted that he could see several good reasons why Oracle would want to buy Sun, and saw three possible fates for MySQL: it would die off; it would get spun off into its own entity or sold to another outfit; it would become a fully-fledged part of Oracle's infrastructure because you know what a great commitment they have to open source. (Cue Jay Leno audience laugh track.)

And right after that, Monty made the very point that I've been making: a project like MySQL is not just a ball of code. It's a team of people, and if you alienate those people, the project is dead meat, open source or not.

I don't think that anyone can own an open source project; the projects are defined by the de-facto project leaders and the developers that are working on the project. If the company loses the trust of these people, they can go away and fork the project and turn it the way they want to.

Sun's acquisition of MySQL did not go smoothly; most of the MySQL leaders (both commercial and project) have left Sun and the people who are left are sitting with their CV and ready to press send.

.. The biggest threat to MySQL future is not Oracle per se, but that the MySQL talent at Sun will spread like the wind and go to a lot of different companies which will set the MySQL development and support back years. [Emphasis mine.]

Exactly. My biggest reason for fearing Oracle taking over Sun was not just because they didn't "get" open source -- although there's plenty of evidence they don't, that they don't care to, and that it's not remotely in their best interest to do so -- but because one natural outcome of such a hostile environment is people jumping ship.

A project the size of MySQL is not something a single person can do. It's not a cute little app that makes life a little simpler, like AllChars (which I love). A team is absolutely essential. And a team, once dissolved, is not easily reconstituted.

If the MySQL team decides to scatter because Oracle doesn't look like the kind of place where they want to work, I don't blame them. And I'll blame Oracle for wrecking a perfectly good product.

Which, for all I know, is what they have in mind anyway.


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