MySQL’s response to Oracle’s moves

I’ve recently written two articles on this topic for Database Journal, the earlier, written after the InnoDB purchase, entitled Oracle’s purchase of InnoDB, their release of Oracle Express, and the effect on MySQL, and the most recent, just after the Sleepycat purchase, entitled Pressure on MySQL increases as Oracle purchases Sleepycat, with more to come.

Since I only do a monthly column for Database Journal, and things change quite quickly, I thought I’d post a few more thoughts on the topic.

The news is coming fast and furious, but there’re too few in-depth analyses, a gap I tried to fill with my articles. One of the few others I’ve seen was by Bruce Perens, who wrote an article entitled Does Oracle Understand What It’s Buying?, coming to a less charitable conclusion than I did. However, I feel that he focused too strongly on MySQL, when the purchases are part of a broader Oracle Open Source strategy.

Since then, MySQL have responded in the best way they can by looking to employ the expertise required to develop their own transactional engine. They’ve acquired Netfrastructure, Inc, and as part of the agreement Jim Starkey will be working fulltime for MySQL AB. Jim Starkey is the father of Interbase (which forked into Firebird), as well as the inventor of the term blob, now so ubiquitous in the database world. Interbase has always been a highly-regarded RDMS. I’ll be interested to see what he works on. First will presumably be the defensive task of building a long-overdue transaction engine. But after that’s been completed, there’re all kinds of other interesting possibilities. Read the Interbase World interview with Jim Starkey for a taste of his other interests, and work since Interbase.

MySQL are certainly not rolling over and waiting for Oracle to buy them, or squash them. With the purchase of Netfrastructure, they’re finally making a committment to build a high-quality engine themselves, one that is not vulnerable to outside shenanigans.


  1. It’s difficult to find your name in this
    article: it’s overwritten by the
    header. It seems that the layout is
    making assumptions about screen
    resolution, and it only works on low-
    resolution screens.


  2. It looks like the fundamental question hereis whether Oracle’s strategy is to sell databases or to sell consulting services.

    Destroying mysql is the strategy to sell databases, but it’s a strategy that won’t pay off any time soon. If Oracle removes mysql’s ability to handle transactions and stored procs, savvy users will simply migrate to postgresql.

    Selling consulting services (and providing an easy migration path for apps built on mysql) makes more sense for them as a business now. They’ll get some add on database sales from people who aren’t sure if mysql is going to be able to support the the good stuff down the road, but if they start going after the middleware developers, it’s a pretty good sign that they intend peaceful coexistence.

    Oracle is filled with smart people, and I think they recognize that winning at open source software is not a zero-sum game. While MySQL should certainly get real ACID support and transactions into their core codebase, I don’t think that Oracle is planning on nuking mysql from orbit. M$, on the other hand…

  3. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out over the next couple of months. In the meantime, can someone tell me how to connect to a PostgreSQL database with Ruby? And what do we call the stack now? LARP (linux, apache, ruby, postgre)

  4. Weston LOL — what do we call the stack
    now.. just like there is mysql and php..
    there will be many other compbinations
    that rock! just as equal or better..
    its only a matter of time… I hope to
    see mysql in the game, holding their own.
    Its a DB for the people, made by the
    people… give credit where is due to
    Oracle for competing…

    we shall see how it unfolds…
    good read bro..

  5. I love this article:

    1. “First will presumably be the defensive task of building a long-overdue transaction engine.”


    2. “…they’re finally making a committment to build a high-quality engine themselves…”

    It’s about time one of the MySQL apologists admitted that MySQL is fundamentally flawed and that the creators are “finally” getting it.

    Here’s what should have completed item 2 above “…after years of providing a suspect file system with no discernable error reporting.”

  6. Two things, broer:
    1. Your title disappears in Safari (and judging form other comments, probably Firefox too). It’s like white text on a white background. Might be good idea to check that css.
    2. Nice article. I’m personally wondering what is going to happen to MySQL’s installed base that uses InnoDB, if InnoDB is no longer going to be the way of the future. I think MySQL should address that.

  7. Byt MySQL already has got a quite good transactional engine from SapDB (MaxDB), doesnt it? It just has a few deficiencies (like lack of multiple column indexes and character encodings/sort orders) which could theoretically be fixed…

  8. And some other aspect can bee seen here – the MySQL is trying to exclude it’s competitor (Firebird) by hiring one of its core developers. It’s acting just like any other commercial company.

  9. All,

    You must keep in mind MySQL is just another commercial database. Yes, I understand those who use it for non-commercial purposes can use it for free. For most of my clients, they would have to purchase a license. That is why I will only use PostgreSQL. If I have to purchase a license, I will stick with SQL Server. 🙂


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