To the Advocacy Group:
I'll add my thoughts to the discussion by sharing with you a note I just
sent to the EnterpriseDB network, including customers, partners, and
As many of you have heard, Oracle recently purchased Innobase, the
company that develops the InnoDB storage engine. InnoDB is best known as
a MySQL component that implements transactions, row-level locking, and
other important database capabilities. Much has been written on this
acquisition over the past couple of weeks, but I want to add my two
cents to the discussion.
All relational database management systems (RDBMSs) have essentially two
components: a SQL layer and a storage engine. The SQL layer is a
language that is used to query the database and to manipulate data. The
storage engine translates SQL commands in order to store and to
manipulate data in underlying, raw disk files. While MySQL supports
several storage engines, InnoDB is acknowledged to be the most popular
for transactional applications. In other words, InnoDB is used for most
MySQL applications that matter. InnoDB is now owned by Oracle.
Naturally, MySQL has put the best face possible on the situation, going
so far as to issue a press release titled "MySQL AB Welcomes Oracle's
Endorsement of Open Source Database Technology." And it is certainly
true that Oracle's move demonstrates its recognition that the open
source revolution is real. But MySQL's "welcome" is like chickens
welcoming a fox to the coop. In a nutshell, Oracle now controls MySQL's
access to the technology that many of its customers would argue is its
most important and critical.
InnoDB is licensed under the GNU Public License (the "GPL"), and MySQL
therefore can continue to use InnoDB and to distribute it. However, this
is true only for the GPL version of MySQL. For paying customers, MySQL
uses a traditional commercial license, and Oracle now controls the
commercial licensing of InnoDB. With the Innobase purchase, Larry
Ellison has shrewdly capitalized on a competitor's strategic blunder,
i.e., MySQL's unexplainable failure to buy Innobase themselves and
thereby to ensure access to critical technology on favorable terms. For
its part, Oracle has stated that it "fully expects to negotiate an
extension" to MySQL's InnoDB license. Time will tell how the
"negotiations" go between Oracle and MySQL.
Under just about any scenario I can imagine, Oracle's purchase of
Innobase is not a good thing for MySQL. In fact, it falls somewhere on
the continuum between threatening and disastrous. In a recent interview
with Martin LaMonica of CNET News, a former Oracle database marketing
executive called the acquisition "a flaw in MySQL's business model."
That is an excellent - and understated - way to put it.
Several people have asked me recently if the same thing could happen to
EnterpriseDB. The answer is a definitive no. In the first place,
EnterpriseDB is based on PostgreSQL, and PostgreSQL is not owned by a
company that can be bought; it is maintained by the worldwide PostgreSQL
community. Furthermore, PostgreSQL is distributed under the Berkeley
Software Distribution ("BSD") license, not the GPL. BSD-licensed
software contains virtually no restrictions governing its use and
distribution, and it therefore cannot ever be held hostage by Oracle or
I hope this note throws some light on the subject of InnoDB. Comments
are welcome, and can be sent to me at the address below.
Andy Astor, CEO
P.S. As always, if you would like to be removed from these occasional
mailings, just let me know.
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