In citing the five year limit to Oracle's promises, Widenius raised a background issue that may concern MySQL users. "After five years, Oracle can demand storage engine vendors to buy licenses," he wrote in his blog.
MySQL doesn't come with a storage engine the way standard relational databases do. MySQL users are trained to make use of an add-on, such as InnoDB, first produced by Inno Oy in Finland. Oracle purchased that company several years ago. Executives at MySQL AB, prior to the firm's acquisition by Sun, said they were talking to the makers of Berkeley DB as a backup alternative when Oracle acquired its owner, Sleepy Cat, as well.
MySQL needs an embeddable storage engine to do all the work it does on many Web sites, and both InnoDB and Berkeley DB remain open source code and freely available under Oracle's ownership. After five years, however, Widenius noted, what happens next is unknown.
Meanwhile, the office of European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has issued a statement after Oracle's appearance before the commission that appeared to indicate she thinks Oracle's five-year commitments meet her demand for continued development for the database system.
"Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes recalls and confirms her statement of 9 Dec. that she is optimistic that the case will have a satisfactory outcome, while ensuring that the transaction will not have an adverse impact on effective competition in the European database market," she said in a statement issued by her office Monday.
"Today's announcement by Oracle of a series of undertakings to customers, developers, and users of MySQL is an important new element to be taken into account In particular, Oracle's binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to 5 years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial licenses are significant new facts," the statement said.