5 Nov
Posted in: Tech
By    5 Comments

Is Oracle Trying To Kill MySQL?

Within the past 24 hours, the tech space was “decorated” with some spreading of false news about the unavailability of InnoDB feature in MySQL Community builds (edition). This FUD (fear, uncertain, and doubt) was spreading fast, and soon triggered a number of jump-the-gun tweets in the Twitter-sphere.

Oracle MySQL Support Packages

Apparently, this mis-conception was resulted from the above chart of MySQL Editions published at http://www.mysql.com/products/. However, in actual fact, this chart is referring to the entitlements of revised support packages (now offered by Oracle), not the features packed into MySQL builds.

@lenzgr and @datacharmer To The Rescue

The FUD and false news that were rapidly spreading, brought Lenz Grimmer (@lenzgr) and Giuseppe Maxia (@datacharmer) into some busy tweet replies clarifying the mis-conception, and highlight the real fact.

MySQL/InnoDB still available for download under the GPL from http://mysql.com/download/ and http://dev.mysql.com/ – no change here.
- @LenzGr

everyone screaming about @MySQL’s #InnoDB being not free, please check the downloads page http://dev.mysql.com/downloads before freaking out
- @datacharmer

Incredible how fast wrong news spread. People complaining about Oracle charging for InnoDB did not bother looking at the downloads page
- @datacharmer

MySQL Is Already Widely Adopted by Enterprises

While there are a lot people concluding that Oracle is trying to kill MySQL by elevating the support subscription prices, but I don’t agree, and I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not supporting Oracle in any cause. In fact, as a Java developer, I was upset over Java’s governance falling under Oracle, until the recent JavaOne 2010 that formally addressed the future of Java with emphasis on OpenJDK contribution. And by the way, I’m still not used to reading Java documentations in the white-and-red Oracle site template (especially the favicon).

However, I’m just not blindly going against Oracle.

Accept it or not, MySQL is no longer just a simple RDBMS targeted at small to medium scale web applications. Over the years of encouraging adoption in enterprise-scale implementation, MySQL is now one of the well-received database systems for enterprises. Even though MySQL is still far from being comparable to Oracle in terms of very advanced features such as multi-master replication, transparent failover, message queuing, materialized views and etc; but MySQL is fitting perfectly well into systems / solutions that are not expecting the above mentioned advanced features readily-built into a database engine. For budget concern, some of these features can still be elegantly implemented using another dedicated tool. For enterprises that could afford the bill of Oracle database, of course they would have already gone for that, even when the implementation is not requiring very advanced features (I have seen that a lot).

I could still remember the days when the enterprise boys were laughing when we proposed an enterprise portal solution running on MySQL! To them, during those days, MySQL was a small kid’s toy, couldn’t be associated with enterprise implementation.

However, those days were gone. Now, many enterprises have already witnessed the implementation of MySQL database in web systems like collaboration portal, document management, HR management and etc. And, with Enterprise Support packages readily available, it gives the project stakeholders a form of assurance for the availability of getting someone blamed when something goes wrong :p

So, what I’m trying to express here is, from my observation and experience in the software solution sector for enterprise and government sectors, MySQL is already standing strong with enterprise adopters who could easily afford the bill of MySQL Enterprise support packages, ranging from Basic (USD599) to Platinum (USD4999). And in fact, many of the million-dollar-budget enterprise adopters really don’t mind seeing an item of USD2999 MySQL Enterprise Gold Support added into a quotation.

I’m pretty sure MySQL has a lot of Enterprise Support subscribers who are heavily under-utilizing their support entitlements!

But Now SMB Can’t Afford The Elevated Support Bill

Before this, the cheapest MySQL support package was USD599 for a Basic, which comes with 2 incidents. Now, it’s a minimum of USD2000 for unlimited number of incidents.

True enough, Oracle’s business decision to slaughter the USD599 package, would really affect a lot of SMB adopters.

However, the fact is, SMB customers never contribute significantly to the profit stream of open source software support packages. Most of the SMB adopters would rather choose not to pay a single cent. Just a handful of them with business offering heavily dependent on MySQL, such as hosting providers, would pay for support package.

So, there are a few points to be considered here from business perspective:

  1. The number of paid customers from the SMB space, is relatively small
  2. And if they pay, they would probably pay for the cheapest package – USD599
  3. But, USD599 is just too insignificant to a multi-billion dollar company – Oracle

Focus on Premier Customers

I’m pretty sure that, Oracle would have realized, by killing off the USD599 Basic Support package and elevated the minimum price of MySQL Enterprise Monitor from USD1999 to USD5000 (a huge jump), the SMB adopters who are still looking for continuity at tight budget would look for alternative support providers, such as SkySQL.

However, I don’t think Oracle care about the small revenue stream.

Oracle is just being Oracle at the end of the day – focus on maximum dollars and cents for the scale of resources they have!

So, in Oracle’s perspective, taking care of the premier bill payers would be a sensibly wise business decision. People who can afford to pay, will still pay. After all, many of the enterprise stakeholders are not spending their own money! They are just doing their job, opting for an insurance policy that could get their ass covered.

Only the SMBs with bosses directly watching on the IT budget, would care about the elevated price, and probably look for alternative providers if they happen to be falling under the very small percentage of SMB payers.

MySQL Support Alternatives?

Well, as mentioned above, SkySQL is one of the alternative MySQL support / training / consulting providers that you could consider to engage with. SkySQL was founded by former executives, personnel, and investors of MySQL AB. They have an advantage here in the technical know-how of MySQL database. SkySQL offers a range of Enterprise Support packages that closely assembles the now-slaughtered MySQL Enterprise package structure.

Another very viable option is Monty Program AB, founded by Michael Widenius, the founder and creator of MySQL.

Alternatively, you can also consider migrating your MySQL database to MariaDB, a database server built by some of the original authors of MySQL that offers drop-in replacement functionality for MySQL. By the way, Monty Program manages the MariaDB project.

MySQL Enterprise Monitor? You still have alternatives like MONyog and Nagios (open source).


  • Thanks for a good analysis, Tien Soon.


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  • I use PostgreSQL this is the database and with 9.0 version and Oracle has fear.

  • Thank you for making a point here! A lot of people believe everything they hear and get confused. The only way out is to inform yourself on your own.

  • [...] go premium, there was a big buzz surrounding the “Oracle trying to kill MySQL” topic. However, I don’t think so, and so do many other industry [...]

So, what do you think?