Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oracle does the right thing with open source acquisition

Back in October 2005, Oracle acquired Innobase, the developer of InnoDB, an open source database engine. At the time, I wondered whether Oracle's intention might be to interfere with Innobase's relationship with MySQL, an open-source database product that uses InnoDB as its engine for users that need that want high concurrency, row-level locking, and transactions in MySQL.

At the time I wrote,
The open source community is not quite sure how to interpret Oracle's move. Is it a further endorsement of the open source movement? Oracle has been a huge supporter of Linux, an open source operating system. But Oracle doesn't sell operating systems. Oracle sells databases, among other things. And InnoDB is at the heart of the open source database movement.

The more cynical view is that Oracle is buying InnoDB in order to divert its five (yes, just five) developers away from supporting open source development and the MySQL relationship. The InnoDB/MySQL agreement is up for renewal next year, and Oracle's press release says they expect to see it continue. But who knows?
Well, it's now been over a year, and the outcome so far is encouraging. Zack Urlocker from MySQL writes to me that Oracle has been very good about continuing to develop Innobase and that Oracle renewed Innobase's agreement with MySQL with no changes.

He writes:
Oracle continues to fix bugs and release updates [to InnoDB], which is good. It has been pretty much as before which is in some ways surprising because many expected Oracle to go off in some other direction. But we were very happy to renew the agreement with them under the same terms as before, ensuring that InnoDB is supported as a top notch engine for many years to come. (And that's one of the reasons we made Oracle "partner of the year" at our conference last April.)

So while I think some folks were initially spooked by Oracle's moves into open source, at least on the MySQL front, things have been "business as usual" for us.

But we also recognize that it's good to have other storage engines out there, so there's a growing ecosystem that includes several partners and open source projects, described at And we've also launched an alpha of our own "Falcon" storage engine which is targeted to transactional web sites and embedded applications.
Oracle is really being a good citizen in its relationship with MySQL, at least so far. Oracle, like Microsoft, is an easy target, and I've given Oracle my share of criticism from time to time. So, I want to be sure to give Oracle credit when it does the right thing.

Update, Jan. 31: Computer Business Review has more on MySQL and its plan to go public.

Related posts
The disruptive power of open source
Oracle bid for Innobase a threat to MySQL?

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