Word that Oracle will purchase Sun Microsystems may not seem to be of general interest, but it’s big news in the tech sphere. In my office, where we support Sun’s Solaris operating system, along with HP Unix, IBM’s AIX Unix, Linux and Darwin (Apple’s port of BSD Unix), the news was pleasing to the extent that Sun will be able to survive (their OS and developer toolset, especially their dbx C/C++ debugger, are tops in the ‘nix world).
While the implications for my vocational world were clear, it took me a little longer to grasp how it may affect my avocation in Web publishing. In January 2008, Sun bought the company that produces MySQL, a free, open source relational database, for a billion dollars. It’s still free, though Sun has enterprise versions of MySQL for sale.
Now comes Oracle, the 800 pound gorilla in the room for relational databases, to buy Sun. So, I asked a co-worker, when I finally started to grasp what’s afoot for those of us dependent on the stability, performance and availability of MySQL (the database of choice for WordPress and many other Web applications running on LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP), what do you think this means for MySQL? Many users worried that Sun had bought it to kill it, but that’s not nearly as scary as Oracle.
I found the answer when I got back to my desk in the form of an e-mail from Oracle:
“Live Customer Event 4/28 – Comparing Oracle to MySQL” read the subject. And in the body:
As the global economy slows down, companies continue to look at alternative technologies that they feel are more cost effective and will save money on their bottom line. Learn why choosing an Oracle technology platform lowers the total cost of ownership for your company during this live, interactive one hour program. Tony Tarone, the Director of Operations at Cedar Document Technologies, will discuss how he gained a reliable, scalable, secure, and cost effective platform by moving from MySQL to Oracle.
Now, I have no idea whether this was planned before the acquisition of Sun was announced, but it sure doesn’t make me feel good about Oracle’s intentions. Of course, MySQL is open source, licensed under the GNU GPL, so there’s no taking it back now. But there’s probably not much reason for Oracle to continue support of the development community as Sun has. That’s a shame.