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Is Oracle's MySQL Move Really A Threat To Microsoft?

A lot of people believe that Oracle last week left no doubt that it will wield MySQL as a potent weapon to fight Microsoft for database market share. The company announced several new MySQL products at a conference in California and reaffirmed its commitment to the open-source software it acquired from Sun Microsystems earlier this year.

As reported by Reuters, "In a bid to woo customers from rival Microsoft Corp, Oracle Corp will boost investment in the widely used MySQL open-source database."

A ZDNet blogger said Oracle MySQL head honcho Edward Screven noted that "more customers deploy MySQL on Windows than on any other platform. That certainly gives Microsoft SQL Server a run for its money."

InformationWeek believes that Screven was "trying to lay apprehensions to rest" on the part of MySQL backers when he said: "We will make MySQL better. We plan to continue this level of investment. A lot of people questioned what motivation Oracle had in acquiring MySQL (as part of Sun Microsystems)."

In the ongoing database wars among the top vendors, this might give pause to database programmers who are choosing which technology to focus on, with Microsoft's SQL Server already being in second place behind Oracle's flagship product.

Or will it? Others aren't so sure.

Ken Hess wrote on that: "In essence, Oracle will continue on the same path with the commercial and community versions of MySQL just as MySQL AB and Sun did."

Or not!

He followed that up with:

"Uh huh. And I have some lovely beach front property in Arizona that I'd love to sell you. It isn't that I don't believe that Oracle will continue to support the MySQL Community version, it's that I don't think they'll continue to support it at the same level as they do the commercial version. The Oracle database doesn't need community support so why should MySQL?"

Expert analyst Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC, was even more skeptical when she told this site:

"Clearly the open-source community at large and the open-source developer community were hoping for specific reassurances from Oracle that it would continue to support, refresh and develop MySQL. Additionally, developers were also keen for Oracle to offer specific details regarding which MySQL features and functions, if any, will require a commercial license. The latter point is crucial for any organization building an in-house custom application or any third-party ISV developer contemplating whether to build a MySQL application or an application for Microsoft's SQL Server.

"Oracle did state it would continue to develop and promote MySQL to compete against rival Microsoft SQL Server, but many corporate developers, enterprises and industry watchers remain unconvinced and will take a wait and see approach before committing to put their development monies and R&D efforts behind MySQL. Oracle's announcement was long on promises and short on specifics on the all important open-source code vs. commercial licensing aspects of MySQL. Oracle still has a long way to go to quell developers' well-founded fears."

So, as with a lot of open-source issues, this one has polarized much of the IT community.

What do you think? Was it a stiff tilt at Microsoft or just a lot of smoke and mirrors? Weigh in here or send me an e-mail.

Posted by David Ramel on 04/19/2010

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