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Oracle's Commercial Moves with MySQL are Drawing Scrutiny

by Sam Dean - Sep. 27, 2011Comments (0)

When Oracle announced its intent to acquire Sun Microsystems, the very first question we asked was what would become of the open source MySQL database and Sun's record of openness with it. The general concensus around Oracle's plans was that the database giant would position MySQL as a way to onboard users to its commercial offerings. (Oracle offers an Enterprise edition.) There is now debate about the extent to which that is happening, especially because Oracle has just released three commercial extensions for MySQL.

Oracle's commercial extensions for MySQL handle basic tasks such as monitoring and backup for enterprises. As Ars Technica notes in a piece on whether Oracle may "fork itself" with its MySQL moves:

"Oracle's recent release of three new commercial extensions to the MySQL database has caused an outcry among some in the MySQL community. Some, including project founder Michael "Monty" Widenius, are concerned that Oracle, by moving to an "open core" model, will slowly move more and more of the database project to commercially licensed code—and to licensing terms that make it difficult for users to escape."

Ars Technica also notes that Oracle has dramatically raised the prices for enterprise-class support for MySQL, a sign that the company may want to experiment with a Red Hat-like model where licensing fees aren't necessarily the bread and butter, but support subscriptions are. 

One way or another, the real issue here is the sheer amount of muscle that Oracle has in the database space. That muscle was part of the reason why Oracle's acquisition of Sun was scrutinized so heavily by regulators. 

It's no surprise that commercial extensions, an Enterprise edition and other commercial offerings are increasingly orbiting the MySQL ecosystem. Oracle is doing profit-driven things with MySQL because it can.

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