It’s magically beautiful outside in San Francisco today, but instead everyone is talking about the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. (More on Techmeme.) A number of people have contacted me with questions to the effect of “Oracle is evil, they now own MySQL, WordPress runs on MySQL, OMG! What’s next?” In addition to the millions of WordPress blogs all using MySQL, all of the projects Automattic contributes to are MySQL-based and we run more than 250 servers dedicated to MySQL.
Last Thursday at The Next Web I talked about how we need an Internet Bill of Rights to protect our data and the countless hours we pour into complex online services, such as Facebook and Last.fm, and that the foundations for this were laid down 20 years ago by Richard Stallman and the GPL.
Today our servers are running various versions of MySQL, tomorrow they’ll be running the same thing, and if need be ten years from now they can run the exact some software. Because of the GPL every WordPress user in the world is protected — we’re not beholden to any one company, only to what works best for us. Today that’s MySQL, tomorrow that’s MySQL, a year from now we’ll see.
Most importantly whatever happens will happen on our timeline. That’s the definition of Freedom.
Here are few other reasons not to be worried, and a bonus at the end.
- Oracle bought Innobase, makers of the InnoDB engine that most large users deploy as their main storage engine, in October 2005. The sky has not yet fallen.
- As a company Automattic has never really needed the support services that MySQL provides and even if we did there are plenty of third parties also providing support.
- Most of the useful updates for MySQL have been coming from outside, to quote Jeremy Zawodny:
The single most interesting and surprising thing to me is both the number and necessity of third-party patches for enhancing various aspects of MySQL and InnoDB. Companies like Percona, Google, Proven Scaling, Prime Base Technologies, and Open Query are all doing so in one way or another.
On the one hand, it’s excellent validation of the Open Source model. Thanks to reasonable licensing, companies other than Sun/MySQL are able to enhance and fix the software and give their changes back to the world.
- In terms of innovation, the most interesting developments have been from outside as well, in projects like Drizzle. (I would not be surprised if this moment is for Drizzle what Movable Type changing their licensing was for WordPress, even though in this case they’re both Open Source.)
- I’ve met a number of people at Sun who are incredibly smart, and if they stick around I expect cool things to continue to come out.
- There are some new developments in the WordPress world, namely that I think it would be possible to add support for databases other than MySQL without changing every $wpdb call or breaking any plugins or themes. It won’t be easy, but the coolest stuff seldom is.
Anyway, I now really wish I had agreed to keynote at the MySQL User Conference starting today. 🙂