A fellow worker showed me Oracle's MySQL pricing with their new pricing information yesterday. The prices were higher, and showed a change in what is included with licenses. I admit, I was a little surprised. After all, MySQL is supposedly Open Source and free.
However, MySQL started with a slightly different licensing format than what we're use to as Open Source. MySQL AB, the creator of MySQL, in 1995, came out with a license they termed, "Second Generation" Open Source. They did this with "dual licensing." The software is made available as Open Source, but the licensing is retained by the company, and is used to sell licenses to companies that want support. To increase revenue, MySQL AP introduced a multi-tiered support, and enterprise licenses.
MySQL AB was sold in 2008 for $1 Billion to Sun Microsystems. Sun continued development, and dual licensing. MySQL continued to grow and become the world's largest web based, open source, database. Developers used it for small to medium size, non-enterprise, companies web sites. As the PHP language grew to be the premier web development language, it became more and more synonymous with MySQL. So much so, that the next release will, supposedly, be even more tightly coupled with it. MySql became number three overall, behind Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle.
In 2009, Oracle, the second largest software company, found its revenues declining and its market saturated, while MySQL installed licenses were rising. They were under heavy competition from Microsoft's SQL Server.
Their solution was to offer to buy Sun in April of 2009. The deal was not completed until the U.S. government agreed in August, 2009, and the European Commission agreed in January 2010, after a petition by over 50,000 developers against the sale. As part of European Agreement, Oracle will maintain MySQL dual licensing until 2015. That's only four years from now.
From is past history, it seems obvious, that Oracle is on a mission, to become the world's largest software company. Oracle sells its database in several versions, an Enterprise edition, a Standard Edition, Standard Edition One, and a Personal Edition. These licenses can be sold by: user, processor, or cluster. They have additional pricing for database utility tools. Support is usually about 25% of the license price.
The prices they have released for MySQL will morph into Oracle's pricing structure. The new prices show a Standard, Enterprise and Cluster version. We see Oracle continuing to raise prices. Bear in mind, Oracle raised its prices 20% in 2008 and 40% in 2009 to boost their revenues.
Sun offered a reduced price Basic and Silver support. Oracle is dropping that. Users will need to upgrade to Gold Support. If previous users want to keep their old support, Oracle will sell it to them only if they sign up for a three year contract.
MySQL Workbench, which replaced MySQL Admin and the Query Builder tool, all were free from Sun, not anymore. You have to buy a license to get them. Oracle also striped out some of the capabilities from the MySQL Open Source version, like the NDB storage engine, for example, and now charges for this.
You have the lay of the land, this leads us to question the fate of Sun open source software that Oracle now owns: besides MySQL, there's OpenOffice, Java, and along with Java, Glassfish. We'll stick with MySQL for this article. Here's our prediction of Oracle's future direction, given their past history, and the way they've previously marketed their products.
Look for Oracle not to drop its Open Source version after 2015. It will keep a stripped down version available to entice new users to their revenue stream when they need to upgrade, and to claim they still support the Open Source community. The prices for MySQL will steadily climb. This will kill MySQL as the database of choice for web development. Look for MySQL to decline in use.
The decline will not be immediate, it will take some time, notably Apache distributions like XAMPP and WAMP will have to offer users alternatives to MySQL, as most developers use these packages, instead of installing products independently.
All is not lost, the Open Source community has plenty of options. There are several good database choices, all open source and free. When the Sun sale was announced, there were several forks taken of MySQL: Drizzle, MariaDB, Percona Server, and OurDelta. Each has a slightly different goal moving forward. There are two well established alternatives to MySQL: PostgreSQL and Firebird. Both have large established communities, and support of major corporations. One of these will become the next MySQL, we're not sure which one yet, with a slight nod toward PostgreSQL, and then Firebird.
This reminds me of the old quote, first uttered in 1422 at the coronation of French King Charles VII, after the death of his father, Charles VI, "The King is dead. Long live the King." Just maybe we're a bit premature, but we see it coming.