MySQL Alumni Start Industry Hub For Open Source Database

Lead developer Monty Widenius heads a new vendor-neutral alliance to provide support for MySQL users who may be left out once Oracle completes its buy of Sun Microsystems.
Monty Widenius and a second expert in the MySQL operations on Wednesday formed the Open Database Alliance to address "the uncertainties" facing the open source database now that it's about to come under Oracle ownership.

While the alliance is meant to safeguard the future of MySQL development, it may also signal that the MySQL code base is about to fork into a 100% open source version versus Oracle's, once its acquisition of Sun Microsystems is finalized.

The "vendor-neutral" alliance, said the announcement, "will become the industry hub for the MySQL open source database, including MySQL and derivative code, binaries, training, support, and other enhancements for the MySQL community."

The alliance will seek "to provide a solution to the fragmentation and uncertainty facing the communities, businesses, and technical experts involved with MySQL," said Widenius and Peter Zaitsev, CEO of a MySQL specialist firm, Percona, in their announcement of the alliance.

Widenius, along with David Axmark, is considered the original author of MySQL. He joined Sun Microsystems with its $1 billion acquisition of MySQL in January 2008, then left a year later, in a dispute with Marten Mickos and Sun over the release of MySQL Release 5.1. Widenius charged the release had been rushed.

Zaitsev represents expertise in an area of development that MySQL needs, its ability to store fresh operational data, as opposed to reading it from the database, the function at which it excels. The alliance at this point is between Zaitsev's Percona and Widenius' Monty Program Ab, a firm that's developing MariaDB, a set of MySQL open source storage engines. One of those storage engines, InnoDB, is also owned by Oracle, after its acquisition of Finnish firm Inno Oy. Oracle continued to make InnoDB available to MySQL users as open source while adding InnoDB to its embeddable database systems product line.

"The intent of the Open Database Alliance is to unify all MySQL-related development and services," the pair said in their announcement. Questions submitted to Widenius and Zaitsev by InformationWeek via e-mail were not immediately responded to.

Widenius said in the announcement, however, that the goal of the alliance "is to provide a central clearinghouse for MySQL development, to encourage a true open development environment with community participation, and to ensure that MySQL code remains extremely high quality."

He added that the alliance will collaborate with "anyone in the industry that provides or depends on MySQL," a group that presumably could include Oracle and Oracle database developers. But Widenius didn't respond by press time on what he would recommend if Oracle submitted code to the community that furthered interoperability between MySQL and Oracle products, or produced a version of MySQL with proprietary code under a license other than the GPL. MySQL AB, the company that employed most contributors to MySQL, started releasing the database under the GPL license in 2000.

The alliance will become a "collection of companies working together to provide the software, support, and services for MariaDB, an enterprise-grade" version of MySQL, the announcement said.

In a blog post Wednesday afternoon, Widenius denied he was interested in creating another MySQL AB to match the one sold to Sun. "People have suggested to me to create a new MySQL AB, a big company that would do anything related to MySQL. ... I didn't like this idea because for me, MySQL AB worked much better when we were less than 70 people. This time I want to do things differently: create a small family-oriented development company drive by excellence and have an alliance of companies that are working closely together. This way, we will be able to avoid some of the growing problems," he wrote in the blog post.

Zaitsev's Percona provides MySQL database services and enhancements, such as its MySQLPerformanceBlog; Xtradb, a version of MySQL that scales better on multicore, multithreaded servers; and Xtrabackup, an InnoDB recovery tool.

A third member of the alliance was announced in Widenius' blog: Open Query, founded by MySQL AB employee No. 25, Arjen Lentz, wrote to Widenius that the alliance "is an excellent step, showing the maturity, breadth, and depth of experience for MySQL-related services." Open Query is a MySQL training and consulting firm.

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