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Open Database Alliance: New Direction for mySQL

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Establishment of The Open Database Alliance, a vendor-neutral consortium designed to become the industry hub for the MySQL open source database," was announced on May 13th. Monty Program Ab, a MySQL database engineering company, and Percona, a MySQL services and support firm, are the initial members of this alliance. The stated intent of the Alliance is:

to unify all MySQL-related development and services, providing a solution to the fragmentation and uncertainty facing the communities, businesses and technical experts involved with MySQL.

The alliance will fork mySQL development using MariaDB, "a branch of the MySQL database that includes all major open source storage engines, including the Maria transactional storage engine."

The announcement contains no mention of the purchase of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, but it would be difficult to not see the Alliance as, in part, a reaction to fears about the future of the open source mySQL under Oracle's stewardship. Similar concerns have been expressed about Java.

MariaDB is the creation of Monty Widenius, considered the "father" of mySQL. Even while Widenius was (he recently left) the CTO of Sun's mySQL division, he was critical of Sun's releases and he asserts that “MariaDB will work exactly as MySQL; all commands, interfaces, libraries and APIs [Application Programming Interface] that exist in MySQL also exist in MariaDB.”

The announcement lists three founding members of the Alliance: Monty Program Ab (Widenius' company and primary developer of MariaDB), Percona (support and consulting for mySQL and LAMP), and Open Query (training). the addition of other members is pending until membership and participation rules are clearly defined, but the Alliance is expected to be:"open to all businesses, organizations and individuals interested in helping create a new, centralized resource for MySQL and to ensure that it remains a top quality, high performance open source database." The announcement further states:

"Our goal with the Open Database Alliance is to provide a central clearinghouse for MySQL development, to encourage a true open development environment with community participation, and to ensure that MySQL code remains extremely high quality," noted Monty. "Participating members at this stage in the 'Alliance' will have a strong voice in how the organization is structured, and we look forward to collaborating with anyone in the industry that provides or depends on MySQL."

Reaction to the announcement has been varied.

  • Ryan Paul's blog exposes some of the concern and ambiguity that arises from the lack of a defined relationship between the Alliance and Sun.
  • Gary Pendergast finds the announcement "awesome" but raises a question about the ability of the Alliance to be truly vendor neutral as claimed.
  • Josh Berkus seems to feel that Oracle will axe mySQL and the the Sun team will flee, hopefully to Monty Program Ab.
  • Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, the cyber cynic exposes worries about "the official development track of mySQL," Sun's in house, Sun's sanctioned fork, Drizzle, or the MariaDB fork.


Expect to see lots of developments and discussion about the Open Database Alliance, the future of mySQL within Oracle, and the future of the widely used mySQL product in the immediate future.

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