MySQL Users Conference followup and MySQL's business model
Last week saw MySQL User Conference 2008 in Santa Clara, but I was not able to make time for it this year either. However, in the wake of Sun's acquisition of MySQL, it was very interesting to follow what was going on. A few things that caught my attention:
MySQL 5.1 is nearing General Availability and an interesting storage engine plugin ecosystem starts to emerge. It's this latter, but related event that I see as the first real sign of validation for MySQL's long-ago chosen path of pluggable storage systems instead of focused effort on making one good general-use engine.
Oracle/Innobase announced InnoDB Plugin for MySQL 5.1, which much-awaited features which promise a great deal of help for daily management headaches. More than that, InnoDB Plugin's release under GPL lifts quite a lot of the concern I'm sure many users like us have had about the future viability of InnoDB as MySQL storage engine.
A couple of data warehousing solutions are launched, also based on MySQL 5.1 -- Infobright is one I've already researched somewhat (looks very interesting, as soon as a few current limitations are lifted), Kickfire I know nothing about right now but would love to learn more of.
There's a huge amount of coverage graciously provided by Baron Schwartz that I have yet to fully browse through.
A few remarks by Mårten Mickos regarding MySQL's business model seem to have kicked up a bit of a sandstorm. I don't really understand why; I read these to just verify that the direction MySQL took last year is to continue this year as well. I don't see any major changes here regarding the licensing structure, software availability, or support models. Frankly, it seems like yet another case of Slashdot readers not reading, let alone understanding, what they're protesting against, and press following up on the noise.
I do understand the critique made against MySQL's chosen model, though. In fact, I went on record last September to say that I understand that critique. I still see the same issues here. I believe we represent a fairly common profile of a MySQL Enterprise customer in that what we want from it is not the bleeding-edge functionality but a stable, well-tested product that we can expect to get help for if something does go wrong. We don't see great value in having access to a version of software that isn't generally available to "less advanced" or more adventurous users for free in a community version. In fact, we see it as a negative that such functionality exists, because it hasn't received the community testing, feedback and improvements that makes great open source software as good as it is. While new functionality is interesting, and we're trying to spend time getting familiar with new stuff in order to use it in production later, it simply isn't prudent to put business-critical data in a system that hasn't received real-world testing by as large a community as possible (unless you have no other alternative, and then you takes your chances).
Yet it seems to me that this is essentially what Sun/MySQL continue to propose for the Enterprise customers by delivering "value add" functionality in a special version of the server or plugins to it, possibly in a closed-source form that further reduces transparency and introduces risk. Mårten, I'd prefer it to be otherwise. How can I help you change your mind about this?