Apple Ditches MySQL In Favor Of PostgreSQL

New Lion Server Swaps BSD Licensed DB for Oracle Product

In addition to the new Mac OSX Lion desktop OS shipping recently, Apple also updated their server software to Lion as well. In an unannounced change Apple has swapped out the built in MySQL database installed in previous OS X server versions and replaced it with PostgreSQL in Lion. This turn of events of course has the PostgreSQL community all a twitter. Probably none more than EnterpriseDB, the company that offers a commercially supported version and services around the popular BSD licensed open source database.

I had a chance to speak with Karen Padir, VP of Product and Marketing and Sean Doherty, VP of Biz Dev at EnterpriseDB. Of course they were ecstatic with Apple's move and see it as yet another signal that PostgreSQL is becoming the preferred choice in open source databases. When I asked Padir and Doherty why they think Apple switched horses in Lion (no pun intended), they said it was a combination of two reasons:

1. The Oracle factor: The open source and developer community are increasingly suspicious of Oracle's ownership of MySQL.  Will they change the licensing? Will they continue to keep feature parity between the open source free version and the commercial version?  What are really their intentions? Can the open source community trust them?  

Forgetting the open source community, can Apple trust them? In this age of patent lawsuits flying back and forth, does Apple want to do anything with Oracle software. In addition to ditching MySQL in Lion Server, Apple has also reportedly stopped distributing its own Java distribution possibly out of fear of a Google type of lawsuit by Oracle.

In any event Padir and Doherty said that the long shadow Oracle is casting is probably the primary reason for the switch.  The other reason that they gave though was,

2. PostgreSQL is more open, more scalable and more developer friendly. EnterpriseDB and other PostgreSQL supporters say that the database has come a long way in recent years. Not only is it every bit as good as MySQL but in many ways that count it is superior to MySQL.  Of course that is subjective and to be taken with a grain of salt, but there is a case to be made for that.

In any event EnterpriseDB is expecting to see a spike of new customers and PostgreSQL users as a result of the switch.

Of course to be fair, a few things should be mentioned. First of all is that Apple's share of the server market is negligible at best. Most studies of server market share don't even list Apple. So this is not quite the same as Red Hat dropping MySQL. Secondly, this move along with several others by Apple seem to show that perhaps Apple has other motives. In this article on MacNN, they said:

MySQL was not the only component "missing" from Lion Server compared to Snow Leopard Server. The new release -- which reduced the price from $500 to $50 -- has also dropped native support for TomCat, Axis, Mobile Access and Apple's own QuickTime Streaming Server. For many users, it is difficult to tell if Apple is simply moving responsibility for keeping such programs up-to-date back onto the developers and users (as it has done with Java and now MySQL) in order to allow users more leeway in choosing versions or branches -- or if it is slowly exiting out of the server market altogether.

So is Apple cutting bait and just moving out of the server market all together? They have said numerous times that they are not an enterprise company. It could be they are content to rack up billions and billions in tablets, phones and other next gen devices and just don't see the server market as strategic enough.

If you still insist on using MySQL on Lion Server or if you already use MySQL on Mac, it is not hard to install and run it. On an upgrade where MySQL is already being used, it will keep it. On a new install you can easily install the Oracle product if you like. Of course you do so at your own risk.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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