Making a foundation a real solution to the mySQL mess

The mission of the new mySQL Foundation would simply be to hold the code base together, to provide a central point for updates, QA and bug fixes, to run the "official" version of the code base and plot its future direction. To run the forge, in other words.

The mySQL mess won't go away.

It doesn't want to go away because mySQL is very useful. The latest demonstration? Amazon's support of the community version of the software at its EC2 cloud.

Two forces are trying to keep the code from forking beyond all recognition.

One force is Oracle itself. You buy a unit worth $1 billion as part of a larger deal and you don't want it dribbling through your fingers.

The other is mySQL co-founder Monty Widenius, who helped launch a group called the Open Database Alliance in May to support a new "community version" of the software.

So far only three companies have joined the ODA. A general meeting is being organized for Zurich, but it might just be a few guys sitting around a table at a bar. The group's Twitter feed is dormant.

The problem for the ODA is as simple as do-re-me. They don't have enough of what makes the world go around. When the check comes for the drinks in Zurich, I have to wonder who's going to pay it, or whether they'll make the waitron wait while those around the table hunt the cushions for enough quarter-Euros to split it.

Amazon's move offers the chance for a reboot.

Oracle has a greater financial stake in the future of mySQL than Monty Widenius does. So does Amazon. So, very likely, do some other large players.

Instead of holding the software as semi-proprietary, which the Europeans won't accept, or just writing a check to make it go away, which Oracle does not want to do, why not create a new foundation, on the model of Eclipse or Apache?

Those who put in the most would have the biggest say in this new group. The community would be represented, in other words, but they wouldn't be in control. The major sponsors would be.

The mission of the new mySQL Foundation would simply be to hold the code base together, to provide a central point for updates, QA and bug fixes, to run the "official" version of the code base and plot its future direction. To run the forge, in other words.

Everyone would benefit. Oracle would get Sun, and community support. The community would get a vital development hub, well-funded. Amazon would be assured its support of mySQL, and the investment it has made in it, is not being wasted. Everyone could take the software in their preferred direction and share the results.

I guess this is all too reasonable to go anywhere. But it's worth a shot.

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