Edinburgh Web Development

Oracle and MySQL

by Iain Wilson

28 April 2009

What do Google, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Nokia have in common? The answer is they all use the MySQL database for data storage.

MySQL is used by all sorts of web sites, services and applications, including the Blot range of software. There's a couple of reasons for this. First it is an extremely good relational database management system. Second, it's open source software and is available under the GNU General Public License, which means amongst other things that you don't need to buy a license to use it. This has made it very attractive to web developers and service providers alike and it is often included with web hosting packages.

In 2008 it was acquired by Sun Microsystems and nothing much changed, but this month news reaches us of the agreement between Oracle and Sun where Oracle will acquire Sun in a multi-billion dollar deal.

Within the web community, this is causing much conjecture because Oracle is very much in the database business and the MySQL database was at least in some ways, competition. So the worry is - what will Oracle do with MySQL?

Only Oracle will know the answer to that of course - that is, if they have in fact actually spent much time thinking about it! There are probably many reasons Oracle what what to buy Sun, but my guess is that MySQL was quite a ways down the list.

Sun is a hardware company with the Java development language as a software jewel, and these are likely the main reasons that Oracle want the deal (same reasons as IBM did a few months ago, before the negotiations broke down). Acquisition of Sun puts Oracle in the single hardware/software supplier box - tried and trusted servers providing optimised database management - very tasty!

What will they do with MySQL? We don't know, but it comes down to how valuable they see the database . There looks like there are a few options.

First would be to integrate it into their database product range in a way that protects their enterprise database - they already do this with the Berkeley database which is available in a free license in certain circumstances.

The second option might be to create a bridge to migrate MySQL users to an Oracle platform. That would be a pretty messy approach.

Lastly, they might see MySQL as a distraction and not worth the effort - they might just 'set it free' again.

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