The creation of SkySQL -- a virtual spinoff of MySQL (pre-Sun, pre-Oracle)-- was as inevitable as LibreOffice.
The community simply doesn't trust that Oracle will be a good steward of open source software and is acting quickly to preserve top open source projects.
SkySQL, which will provide alternative services and support for the MySQL database, is playing it safe for now. It is not helping found a new open source foundation to sponsor an official MySQL fork, and is not declaring open war on Oracle.
But it appears the gang behind SkySQL -- a bunch of ex MySQL execs, developers and investors -- will try to wrest control of the open source database business back from the proprietary grasp of Oracle.
The SkySQL Enterprise subscription, launched last week, for example, will support the development of "alternative software" for MySQL as well as offer support mySQL branches such as MariaDB.
The company highlights its more cost effective service and support offerings as the core business model -- yet subtly implies that it would welcome and drive a a bona fide MariaDB fork if demand materializes.
And that demand is already materializing, SkySQL noted in its press release last week.
"SkySQL Ab ... is committed to furthering the future development of MySQL database technologies, while delivering cost-effective database solutions and exceptional customer service."
SkySQL's CEO makes it clear that he and many other top original MySQL developers believe that MySQL will die under Oracle's control.
“When Sun was acquired by Oracle, there was a collective gasp in the MySQL community,” said Ulf Sandberg, CEO at SkySQL Ab. “MySQL supporters were rightfully anxious that growing the bottom line of big business would take precedence over further investment in the development of the MySQL franchise. In our view, progress of MySQL’s technology has been stymied, leading to a mass exodus for those involved in the technology. SkySQL has become a new haven for MySQL expertise due to our unwavering commitment to providing high quality, expert support of MySQL technology and services on a global scale.”
In other words, the company will survive offering customers more affordable service and support contracts than those proferred by Oracle. Yes, it is committed to becoming the default alternative for Oracle's MySQL software, service and support, and is investing in the cloud opportunity -- hence the Sky in SkySQL, one executive told this ZDNet Blogger.
But make no mistake -- SkySQL will try to regain control over the open source database development. And it looks like they have the clout to do it.
"SkySQL is becoming the new center of the MySQL ecosystem because our foundation of key experts is based on over a hundred years of experience in serving MySQL users commercially," said Kaj Arnö, Executive Vice President of Products, SkySQL Ab. "These experts have joined our company to build a business dedicated to serving the users of MySQL and related technologies with commercial value add, while respecting open source values. Founding the company with these gifted minds puts SkySQL in a unique position to inherit and preserve the principles that made the MySQL database so appealing in the first place."
I asked SkySQL if it will eventually sponsor an official fork of MySQL, and here is the company's official response:
SkySQL is committed to the long term future development of the MySQL database, to ensure that the product will continue to meet the increasing requirements of performance, scalability, reliability and ease of use. Our current subscription offering already includes support for MariaDB - a branch of the MySQL database. As adoption of the latter increases, the development and support of MariaDB may get more attention, since it presents a solid technical future roadmap for customers."