Often the biggest threats come not from without, but from within.
There’s a big issue looming for web and mobile developers, and if it happens, it will affect virtually everyone that uses the web. The problem is that a very large proportion of database driven websites and applications (think of the stuff on your phone) is built using a MySQL database. We developers used that particular database, in general, because it was free, and most websites can’t afford the license cost of Microsoft SQL (think $5k a server or more) or, even worse, Oracle (think$10k a processor per server).
Everything was fine until one day, Sun bought MySQL. That worried us, but then our fears compounded when about a year later, Oracle bough Sun. The web’s most important Open Source database was in the hands of the company that sells it’s huge enterprise big brother. The guys that make huge dollars selling databases for big bucks.
We shuddered. Obviously the move was worthy of Standard Oil in it’s heyday, one summed up in the single word: monopoly. Meanwhile the Oracle PR team went into overdrive telling us it simply wasn’t true.
So we held our breath and waited.
On Saturday, TechCrunch posted:
Oracle is holding back test cases in the latest release of MySQL. It’s a move that has all the markings of the company’s continued efforts to further close up the open source software and alienate the MySQL developer community.
The issue stems back to a recent discovery that the latest MySQL release has bug fixes but without a single one having any test cases associated with it. That creates all sorts of problems for developers who have no assurance that the problem is actually fixed.
Open source software relies on transparency. As consumers (meaning site owners, business owners, etc.) we need to know what is going on with the code. What changed, what is going to change, etc.
There is simply too much invested in MySQL by too many of us. A large portion of the online economy is built on MySQL; sites like Wikipedia, American Airlines, TicketMaster,
Zapphos, etc. MySQL is the database of the Internet.
Deep down, even with $$$$ invested in MySQL, we’ve got to worry that Oracle has a strong vested interest in seeing MySQL go away. After all, when you own the most expensive of enterprise databases, you’re view towards “open and free” is going to be dark and black.
Is this then end? No. However this is a situation which potentially could affect all of us, and bears close watching.