As a former consultant with Oracle and a heavy user of MySQL I am extremely interested in how Oracle will handle MySQL with the recent purchase of Sun.

Obviously, Oracle would like to develop some type of revenue stream, but I think that is going to be difficult. However, the best that Oracle may be able to do is to continue to support the product, but do so in a manner which provides a clear upgrade path to Oracle and attempts to protect current revenue as much as possible.

First and foremost, MySQL and InnoDB are now part of the same company. Oracle has done a nice job of maintaining InnoDB so I think that this can only be beneficial to MySQL.

Another thing that Oracle has to recognize is that MySQL has been instrumental in spreading database technology to the masses. You can hardly signup for a hosting account without also gaining access to MySQL. I couldn’t even fathom a guess at how many sites use MySQL. Many, if not most, of these installations are individuals and small businesses. Not only have people and companies done this because it is easy, but they are cost sensitive. Attempting to now charge licensing fees for something that has been free up until now will result in a large backlash and is probably undoable.

In addition, just because Oracle now owns MySQL, doesn’t necessarily mean they own the intellectual power that created it. In fact, many of the MySQL developers previously left Sun and several new forks of MySQL already exist including Drizzle, Percona and Monty. Postgres could also become much more popular as part of a backlash. Any attempt by Oracle to limit access to MySQL will only result in developers rallying and creating something new and even better.

Therefore, if I was Larry, what I would attempt to do is to first develop a clear upgrade path from MySQL to Oracle. When should you upgrade, under what circumstances? What are the clear benefits? Make the low-end costs reasonable. Then I would attempt to slow down and limit the innovation and addition of features to MySQL. Certainly, MySQL doesn’t scale as well as Oracle, but the addition of features such as Replication and Clustering to MySQL certainly makes someone take it seriously and consider it for a lot more scenarios than previously.

In any case, it will certainly be interesting to watch. As for me, I personally think that MySQL will continue to be available and will continue to get stronger. I also don’t have any reservations in continuing to use it, as long as I recognize its limitations and fully understand the environment in which it will be used.