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The beginning of MySQL’s end

Posted on | April 18, 2008 | Comments Off

I’m pleased to announce another runner-up for 2008′s biggest brain dead blunder award. MySQL has elected to shift development focus to their enterprise offerings (making more code proprietary), likely leaving the free/open source offerings to gather mold.

This is a classic case of a company not understanding how people actually use their products and the markets that cause people to use their products. This decision is going to cost MySQL dearly,

Why, oh why would you take one of the strongest free testing communities in history, alienate it and then do things that will ensure that your enterprise customers will run buggy untested code while your cash cow withers on the vine?

Lets take a quick look at what makes most people find MySQL. On one hand you have developers who enjoy MySQL for its simple syntax and quality documentation, on the other hand you have end users who use applications developed around MySQL, thus finding it by proxy. If the developer of your ‘killer’ open source application used MySQL, so will you. Therein lies part 1 of the blunder:

End users are the ones who need the tools being made proprietary, such as backup tools and other things. They need them to work, work well and MySQL will be selling them un-tested code. This is a recipe for breakage with a trickle down effect, developers will turn to things like PostgreSQL – hard core developers will make multiple forks of MySQL and write their own free enterprise tools to support their applications.

How could either scenario mean anything but ‘bad’ for MySQL?

The following has been proven time and time again. The best way to profit by making software is to give it away. Give people the freedom to do what they want with your stuff. You make money by supporting and customizing your works. Oracle knows this, Redhat knows this, Canonical (Ubuntu) knows this, MySQL thinks that the world just doesn’t apply to them.

Why would I (as a developer) write something designed to be mission critical utilizing MySQL when I know very well that the tools needed to backup and scale the database will be (at best) buggy and untested? I wouldn’t, I’d use some other database like PostgreSQL (and so would whoever used my application).

Blogs and technology sites are currently ablaze with this news, most comments indicate that developers are moving to some other database solution or forking MySQL now before the free version really starts to deteriorate.

This is like winning every gold medal in the Olympics and then forfeiting at the very end. The difference between mindless and brain dead behavior is simple, brain dead indicates that you knew better and did it anyway.

The market for relational databases is controlled by applications that use them. The market is booming and MySQL decides to stick its head in the sand. I fail to grasp any circumstance that would make this move seem like a good idea.

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