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The future of MySQL in a post-Sun world

Oracle's control of the MySQL copyright could create new licensing headaches and bundling limits for customers

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld
April 07, 2010 06:22 AM ET

InfoWorld - Oracle's absorption of Sun is complete. Now that the European Commission has blessed the merger, the Oracle logo is proudly displayed to anyone who types "sun.com" into a browser. Yet if you visit mysql.com, you'll see hardly any mention of Sun, the company that purchased MySQL for $1 billion in 2008, and Oracle's logo is buried deep at the bottom of the pages.

It's almost as if the endless legal briefs, the hearings, the saber rattling, and the hand-wringing never happened. For the moment, database administrators, IT managers, and tiny Website operators everywhere continue with business as usual, leaving MySQL running on the servers and fielding the queries that come zipping in. Yet now that Oracle holds the keys to the MySQL copyright, the question remains: What does the future hold for the popular open source database -- and the organizations that rely on it?

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The question is a tricky, and the answer depends heavily on MySQL's role in your business, the type of license you use, the amount you want to spend, what you want purchase, and who you plan to work with in the future. To further complicate matters, MySQL is one of the most prominent open source projects and businesses in the world, so any discussion about MySQL becomes a proxy for a debate about open source licenses such as the GPL (GNU Public License).

MySQL, today and tomorrowThere's good news for fans of MySQL: It  won't be left to wither and die any time soon. Oracle has made very public assurances that it will spend more on developing the database than Sun ever did, at least for the next three years. The Community Edition will continue to see improvements, which will be released under the GPL at no charge with all of the source code.

These assurances suggest that the average MySQL user won't need to think about whether or not to drop MySQL for the next few years. If you're happy with your version of the database, you will be able to keep running it -- as long as you have a compiler.

There's some good historical evidence that Oracle will make it easy to continue using MySQL without a compiler. One developer, who is familiar with how Oracle nurtured Sleepycat after purchasing the open source database company, said the deal worked out wonderfully for everyone. There are now more engineers than ever, and the company never changed the licenses.

"It's four years later and we're almost all still here," said one developer who isn't allowed to speak publicly for Oracle. "People are still engaged and happy. Oracle is an excellent engineering organization."

Assurances such as these aren't enough to calm everyone's nerves. The very fact that MySQL's Website is so distinct (unlike Sleepycat.com, which redirects to the Oracle Website) may be more than an oversight. Oracle executives know just how tumultuous the journey has been for MySQL. Marching right in and redirecting mysql.com to oracle.com would upset people who are still brooding after the purchase of Sun.

Originally published on www.infoworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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