Marten Mickos Gives MySQL, Under Oracle, His Blessing
When Oracle announced its intent to acquire Sun Microsystems in 2009, one of the first questions asked in the open source community was what the fate of MySQL would be. After all, MySQL had spent years growing in popularity, largely driven by adoption at the departmental level in businesses and organizations, and many perceived it to be a pronounced open source threat to proprietary database systems like the ones Oracle had specialized in. There was even speculation that Oracle might be buying Sun partially to shut MySQL down. Now, Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL says its code base is actually in fantastic shape.
In 2009, prior to Oracle's announcement of intent to buy Sun, Oracle had already sought to buy MySQL in 2007 for $850 million, which was the third time the company had attempted to acquire it. Although Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was adamant that the crown jewel in the Sun buyout was Java, there is no doubt that MySQL played a big part in Oracle's decision.
Now, in an interview, former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, who has gone on to head up Eucalyptus Systems, which focuses on open source cloud solutions, has this to say about MySQL version 5.5, which he calls probably "the best MySQL version ever produced":
"It's brilliant engineering and they are under the GPL license, completely open source, fantastically built, a low number of bugs, well tested and QA'd. All of that is fantastic. But where you see it already changing is that in community engagement, discussion forums, bug databases, online documentation, you see how they are moving MySQL into the same mode as other Oracle products. Many in the community will react against it and feel that it's not as open and open source as it used to be and that's true. That's why you see new companies springing up and catering to that need. But the core product, the actual code, is in better shape than ever. And I think they will keep it that way."
There are a lot of people who wouldn't have expected this outcome. Although Mickos concedes that MySQL has been brought more in line with Oracle's database offerings, he clearly heralds the openness that MySQL retains. Notably, Mickos also says that the upcoming version 5.6 of MySQL is strong as well.
In the long run, MySQL is likely to become an on-ramp for many organizations to adopt other Oracle database and middleware offerings, but as long as it retains its core open source ethos, MySQL is forkable, flexible and in every way alive. That's good news after all the rampant speculation that MySQL would go the way of the dodo under a commercial software titan.