Software // Information Management
Commentary
12/29/2009
12:50 PM
Curt Monash
Curt Monash
Commentary
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Oracle Lifts Cloud Over MySQL Storage Engine Vendors

Earlier this month, Oracle put out a press release promising to play nicely with MySQL if its Sun takeover is approved... Point #2 is the biggie, lifting a major cloud from the MySQL storage engine business.

Earlier this month, Oracle put out a press release promising to play nicely with MySQL if its Sun takeover is approved. The parts in italics below are quotes. My comments are in plain text.

1. Continued Availability of Storage Engine APIs. Oracle shall maintain and periodically enhance MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture to allow users the flexibility to choose from a portfolio of native and third party supplied storage engines.

MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture shall mean MySQL's current practice of using, publicly-available, documented application programming interfaces to allow storage engine vendors to "plug" into the MySQL database server. Documentation shall be consistent with the documentation currently provided by Sun. Well, duh.2. Non-assertion. As copyright holder, Oracle will change Sun's current policy and shall not assert or threaten to assert against anyone that a third party vendor's implementations of storage engines must be released under the GPL because they have implemented the application programming interfaces available as part of MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.

A commercial license will not be required by Oracle from third party storage engine vendors in order to implement the application programming interfaces available as part of MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.

Oracle shall reproduce this commitment in contractual commitments to storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun.

This is the biggie, lifting a major cloud from the MySQL storage engine business. It sounds like the third of four options I suggested as to how Oracle could legitimately earn antitrust approval of its MySQL takeover. Sure, Infobright, Kickfire, et al. already had what they saw as adequate safeguards or contingency plans vs. Oracle skullduggery. It's still big even so.

(Quoted out of order.) The geographic scope of these commitments shall be worldwide and these commitments shall continue until the fifth anniversary of the closing of the transaction.

Not a disaster, but with respect to at least point #2 there should be no time limit whatsoever. I'd like to see the EC require that change as a further Oracle concession.

3. License commitment. Upon termination of their current MySQL OEM Agreement, Oracle shall offer storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun an extension of their Agreement on the same terms and conditions for a term not exceeding December 10, 2014.

Oracle shall reproduce this commitment in contractual commitments to storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun.

Actually, I don't think this was ever enough of a problem to be a big deal.

4. Commitment to enhance MySQL in the future under the GPL. Oracle shall continue to enhance MySQL and make subsequent versions of MySQL, including Version 6, available under the GPL. Oracle will not release any new, enhanced version of MySQL Enterprise Edition without contemporaneously releasing a new, also enhanced version of MySQL Community Edition licensed under the GPL. Oracle shall continue to make the source code of all versions of MySQL Community Edition publicly available at no charge.

This one is too weasel-worded to matter much.

5. Support not mandatory. Customers will not be required to purchase support services from Oracle as a condition to obtaining a commercial license to MySQL.

Not clear how significant this is given that there are no price assurances about the license cost.

6. Increase spending on MySQL research and development. Oracle commits to make available appropriate funding for the MySQL continued development (GPL version and commercial version). During each of the next three years, Oracle will spend more on research and development (R&D) for the MySQL Global Business Unit than Sun spent in its most recent fiscal year (USD 24 million) preceding the closing of the transaction.

Oracle won't shut down the MySQL business for at least 3 years. Duh. If there was any chance of Oracle doing so in the first place, it wouldn't have let MySQL delay the whole merger for this long.

7. MySQL Customer Advisory Board. No later than six months after the anniversary of the closing, Oracle will create and fund a customer advisory board, including in particular end users and embedded customers, to provide guidance and feedback on MySQL development priorities and other issues of importance to MySQL customers.

8. MySQL Storage Engine Vendor Advisory Board. No later than six months after the anniversary of the closing, Oracle will create and fund a storage engine vendor advisory board, to provide guidance and feedback on MySQL development priorities and other issues of importance to MySQL storage engine vendors.

Two small gestures -- but I bet the Oracle people tasked to interact with those boards will truly want to do the right thing for MySQL users. Engineers are like that -- they want to make things that actually work well.

9. MySQL Reference Manual. Oracle will continue to maintain, update and make available for download at no charge a MySQL Reference Manual similar in quality to that currently made available by Sun.

10. Preserve Customer Choice for Support. Oracle will ensure that end-user and embedded customers paying for MySQL support subscriptions will be able to renew their subscriptions on an annual or multi-year basis, according to the customer's preference.

Small stuff.Earlier this month, Oracle put out a press release promising to play nicely with MySQL if its Sun takeover is approved... Point #2 is the biggie, lifting a major cloud from the MySQL storage engine business.

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