Oracle Makes Commitments about MySQL

To fend off the European Commission’s concerns about the Sun/MySQL acquisition, Oracle has made a public commitment to maintain certain aspects of the MySQL open source business offering.  They include: continuing to make available Storage Engine APIs, a pledge not to assert that third party vendor’s implementations of storage engines must be released under the GPL (“A commercial license will not be required by Oracle from third party storage engine vendors in order to implement the application programming interfaces available as part of MySQL’s Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.”), and continuing to “enhance MySQL and make subsequent versions of MySQL, including Version 6, available under the GPL.”  Oracle also pledged to increase spending on MySQL research and development.

This is an interesting approach.  It also is an interesting example of public messaging about not reserving the right to make aggressive stands on GPL interpretation or enforcement.

Rumors of Open Source Death Greatly Exaggerated

Isn’t it fun when the mainstream press figures out what you have been up to for all these years?  The New York Times carried an article today about the “elusive” business model of open source software, focusing on acquisitions like Oracle/Sun/MySQL.  The NYT piece in turn prompted this blog post saying that open source is “dead” as a business model.

Just for the record, getting acquired is not a failed business model, nor is it a dead one.  Maybe I’ve been in Silicon Valley too long, but getting bought for valuations in excess of those justified by revenue or profit is what we call success out here in the Wild West.  In fact, producing a high-quality, low-price alternative to an existing product, and being bought by the existing product’s owner, is an old and proven game.  It doesn’t matter whether the alternative is open source software or just a better mousetrap.

Anyway, I love any prediction that open source is dead.  The last time someone said that to me, it was 2002.