Life is all about consequences. Perhaps the fluttering of a butterfly wing in Paraguay can trigger world events. Maybe not.
But when Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, snatched Sun Microsystems from under IBM’s nose, I couldn’t help wondering what this would mean for the future of MySQL. The database has been a real thorn in the side of Microsoft for some years and powered a whole number of websites owned by people that couldn’t possibly have afforded licences for Microsoft SQL Server. There will be consequences.
It happened to me, midway through the period I was running The Inquirer. My previous support team which built the CMS used .net and had a licence. But when we parted company, I had to fork out a lot of money for an SQL Server licence. Nothing wrong with that in principle, but when you’re running a web site on a shoe string, as I was, that money makes a lot of difference. Large corporations using either MySQL or SQL Server have to pay the support price, which is quite right – everyone needs to make a living in this world. But MySQL offered the opportunity for the little guys to do their own thing without having to mortgage their house to be able to afford a licence.
Now everyone and their dog knows that the relationship between Oracle and Microsoft could never be described as sweetness and light. In fact, you sometimes get the feeling that Oracle is, frankly, contemptuous of Microsoft. Read this report on a tech conference from 2004 and you’ll get the picture.
Irrespective of this relationship, Oracle is a hard nosed company and competes vigorously with both IBM and Microsoft in the database market. The real question about the future acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle is what will happen to MySQL.
The same question was posed when Sun acquired MySQL but it was pretty clear from the start that the effective message for the little guys was business as usual. Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun, made it quite clear from his actions and his words that he was a community minded guy.
Quite a long time ago, when I was a mere stripling of 40, there were a whole heap of consolidations in the database market. Microsoft bought some smaller firms, Computer Associates snapped up others for their licensing rights, and Philippe Kahn’s Borland bought up Ashton Tate’s db. The smaller databases have long since gone and giants walk the earth now.
It will be most intriguing to see whether the tough guys at Oracle will let MySQL live and breathe for long, or whether MySQL will become NoSQL at all. Perhaps Larry will keep it running just to rub Microsoft’s nose in it.