Six weeks after Oracle Corp. bought Finnish software developer Innobase
Oy, MySQL AB is working to provide its customers with an alternative to
the open-source InnoDB database engine often used at the heart of its
product, a MySQL executive said Tuesday.
Database industry watchers have speculated what the impact of Oracle’s
buy-out would be for MySQL’s open-source database. But MySQL, the
Swedish company that provides support services around the open-source
software, is maneuvering for a replacement option.
“Obviously because Oracle made that acquisition we are evaluating
options to replace that functionality in some way,” said Richard Mason,
vice president of MySQL for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
“We’re not at the point yet where we can go public with what that plan
is but we will be shortly.”
Innobase developed the most popular storage engine used with MySQL,
version 5.0 of which was released about three weeks ago. The InnoDB
storage engine is regarded as one of the best for online transactional
Oracle said when it announced the Innobase deal that it would continue
to develop the InnoDB technology. The database engine is currently
bundled with MySQL under a contractual agreement with Innobase that
will come up for potential renewal next year.
Mason was one of several officials from MySQL AB who hosted the
company’s first northern European customer conference in London
Tuesday. The first question asked of MySQL AB co-founder David Axmark
was about how the Oracle deal would affect MySQL’s database software.
Axmark said the storage engine is “pluggable,” meaning other storage
engines can be substituted instead. He said the code for InnoDB is
under the GPL (General Public License), so “the code is always out
there. It will always be out there.”
Still, MySQL is apparently sufficiently concerned about Oracle’s move
to prepare a suitable alternative for customers. The company isn’t
saying yet what it plans to do. Possibilities include developing a new
version of InnoDB based on the current open-source code, or working to
improve one of the alternative open-source database engines.
Why Oracle bought Innobase and its architecture is not entirely clear,
said David Cartwright, a database specialist and managing director of
Korana Technology, based in Norwich, England. If Oracle is going to
allow MySQL AB to use the database engine’s code, then there’s no big
deal, he said.
Even if the agreement was not renewed, the current code could still be
used, Cartwright said. However, if Oracle holds patents or licenses for
the underlying technology such as algorithms or file structures, “then
that could get quite interesting,” he said.
It would mean MySQL may have to come up with a different architecture,
Cartwright said. However, it could take away programming efforts from
Nonetheless, MySQL AB officials say there have been more than 1 million
downloads of the software since it has been released. Further, the
company has signed global distribution agreements with Dell Inc.,
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Novell Inc. and licensed them to
redistribute MySQL Network, the company’s support services for the free
database, Mason said. It’s an annual charge per server, he said.
HP and Novell have MySQL on their price list, and they can direct to
their customers or through their channels, Mason said. Those contracts
now being localized for different countries, he said.
The deals increases the distribution network of MySQL and makes chief
information officers see the software “as acceptable and part of the
enterprise landscape,” Mason said.
By Jeremy Kirk – IDG News Service (London Bureau)