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« More MySQL keynote videos | Main | Thanks Everyone! »

April 17, 2008


As an Enterprise customer, I can say that that at least for me closed features in mysqld are not what we are looking for. We are of course willing to pay for quality software but personally I am wary of the vendor lock-in associated with proprietary software -- that is much of the reason people such as myself enjoy using free and open software like MySQL.

I am less wary of proprietary software when it comes in the form of add-on software like Workbench, MySQL Load Balancer or the monitoring portions of Enterprise monitor -- or the insight driven software such as the advisors in Enterprise monitor and the new Query Analyzer. These give me value without providing the lock-in I fear from proprietary vendors.

What I would really worry about is the alienation of the next generation of customers, preventing them from trying MySQL from a (wrongly) perceived notion that the community edition is crippleware. Miscommunication like what you saw on Slashdot will surely not be the last.

Thanks for taking time to clarify the specifics. It helps a lot to know that the core server will continue to be GPL, and that the parts of online backup being developed inside the core will be available to the community.

I agree with Ryan, am much less concerned with proprietary development in the form of add-on services.

The only difficulty with this line of reasoning, Zack, is that "lagom" will invariably swing toward the profit side of the equation. You're a public company now. You will be under tremendous pressure to deliver the numbers, and the numbers are never long-term. They're always this quarter.

I don't think it's necessary that you adopt Red Hat's model, though it works very well for Red Hat and for those of us who have espoused it. Rather, I'm suggesting that you would do well to separate - *clearly* - your community product from your enterprise product. Instead, what you appear to be doing is making your community and customers forever guess where the line will be drawn. You've emphasized how critical backup is...and you're only making it available to paying customers. Does this mean the more critical, the more likely it will be closed?

I'm not criticizing. It's a difficult road. Alfresco had the same decision to make and we scrapped our proprietary extensions. It was too much work and bother always having to decide what would be open source versus proprietary, with "important for customers" generally translating into "proprietary." Perhaps you'll be better at it than we were. Or perhaps you'll discover a new licensing model along the way that we'll all follow. I'll be a fan, regardless.

Thanks for these comments. We are still gathering input, so its much appreciated.

I'm not sure that the Red Hat / Fedora model makes sense for us. It has been successful for them, but there are differences between an OS and a DBMS.


The thing about open source is that the community can verify the code as being well-written, secure, and efficient. If you don't release all of it as open-source, you will put some customers off using it, particularly those who require verifiable security and to KNOW that there is no spyware. But that still shouldn't preclude Sun from offering a paid-for support agreement for those who feel they would prefer the warm feeling of having someone they can call on if they need to.

In addition to the security/spyware point thae Peter brings up, by releasing certain features in the enterprise version of the product, you implicitly state that your (mysql/sun as a company) can test those features (along with your paid customers) at least as well as the community at large can.

This seems like a very cathedral approach to me and against one of the fundamental strengths of the open source development model.

This should trouble your open source savvy enterprise customers.

Hi Zack

Thanks for a good summary. In fact, even being a MySQL employee myself, there were parts of this that I had not previously been aware of. (In particular, I had understood the "online" part of the backup would also be closed source, which I'm happy to see is not the case now.)

First observation: We probably could have done a better job communicating this proactively up front, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that this would go on Slashdot. Now MÃ¥rten and you have a hard time catching up with all of the disinformation up there.

Second: For Ryan in the first comment, and other paying customers. Make sure your MySQL account manager is aware of your feelings. The opinions of paying customers is obviously at the highest importance for the MySQL organisation and the input from the sales organisation is given a lot of weight since they are the ones who spend a lot of time with our customers. Unfortunately, many account managers don't read blogs! So make sure whoever in your organisation talks to a MySQL account manager mentions this, if this is in fact how you feel. (That being said, Zack is also a very good person to funnel opinions through!)

Third: We all like Open Source, both as users and programmers. Finding out how to transfer the money from users to programmers is not that easy though. (Since Open Source software is so useful to it's users, by modern capitalist logic it is only right that such a transfer happens. As Zack says, it allows us to produce even more Open Source software.) Matt from Alfresco, I wouldn't be surprised if after a couple of years MySQL@Sun arrives at the same conclusion you did. Any good hints at what business models MySQL could try next? In particular, how did you do it?

Finally: Some very nice and subtle spam from Jenny up there, this is probably the best written spam I've ever seen. I had to read several times to be certain that it is not at all on topic for this article.


From my perspective, MySQL is taking the right approach with regard to added value plug-ins. Yes, some of them will be closed source, but the API to incorporate them into the mainline product will be open, thereby leveling the playing field. The kinds of organizations that most need these features are also the types that will pay for such innovation.

If it turns out that there's significant market interest in these add-ons, MySQL will have competitors (including, perhaps, some open source projects) for these new plug-ins. This means that market forces will be in play, likely keeping costs under control for that subset of the market that requires these capabilities. All in all, this is probably the only way that MySQL can remain true to its open source roots while funding leading edge innovation for highly specialized functionality.

As someone who has been doing relational db's since before SQL was the, er, standard, I must say, the Oracle people have it right: a DBA can screw up anything, except restores. Having a proper, transaction-aware solid-as-a-rock, backup and restore capability is what differentiates professional databases from toys. And professionals from little boys.

Some of those high profile screwups, like losing all posts of popular blogs, ought to be an object lesson.

thanks for the news

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