Oracle and MySQL: Licensing and the Linux enterprise space

If Oracle handles its Linux operating system (OS) well, it will make life difficult for competitors like MySQL, says Scott Noyes, Bookit.com's senior Web applications developer and MySQL expert, says in this Q&A. On the flip side, MySQL can fight back with its less expensive, yet equally effective, support and its more flexible database. Noyes also explains how MySQL's "GPLv2 or later" will bring licensing stability. 

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Do you think Oracle's offering of their own version of Linux means that they will push MySQL out of the Linux space? Do you think IT shops will prefer the "one-stop shopping" convenience?

Scott Noyes: Much of the decision to implement MySQL or Oracle will depend on the licensing structure and portability. If the IT world gets the impression that Oracle's database will be reliable only on an Oracle OS, or if it costs too much to roll out an Oracle-dependent product, they will be loathe to commit their data. On the other hand, if the Oracle OS proves to be reliable and functional in its own right, and the Oracle database remains as versatile as it is today, an all-in-one package will appeal to some percentage of the market.

Can users running Oracle for their core applications replace them with MySQL?

Noyes: Many companies use MySQL for all their data needs, and all the new features in MySQL 5.0 make it a viable choice for most businesses. If you decide to switch, buying support via MySQL Enterprise will help smooth the transition and optimize the end performance.

How can users perform replication from Oracle to MySQL?

Noyes: IDSOpen offers a product to replicate Oracle to MySQL.

Theo Schlossnagle, author of Scalable Internet Architectures also offers a method in Chapter 8. His examples use PostgreSQL, rather than MySQL, but the basic idea remains the same.

What does it mean, now that MySQL's license has been modified from GPLv2 or later to just GPLv2? What does their rejection of GPLv3 mean? Do you think other open source software companies will follow suit?

Noyes: It is not accurate to say that MySQL has rejected GPLv3. Rather, the move serves to keep their options open. If GPLv3 gains widespread acceptance, and no prohibitive legal issues arise, MySQL will likely adopt GPLv3. By removing the "or later" clause, MySQL simply maintains better control over their own licensing commitments.

Kaj Arnö, MySQL's VP of Community Relations, discusses the change at PlanetMySQL.

What are the differences between MySQL's Community offerings versus their MySQL Enterprise offerings?

Noyes: MySQL Community Server offers bug fixes and feature upgrades every few months. MySQL Enterprise offers more frequent updates, as well as service and support, including network monitoring, an advisory service and design help. See http://mysql.com/products/enterprise/ for a full description of all Enterprise has to offer.

How does dual licensing affect the use of MySQL in enterprise IT environments? Is there anything I need to be aware of?

Noyes: MySQL Community edition is free to use, whether you are a home user or a billion-dollar corporation. You can store your data in it, serve Web pages from it and build reports that rely on it, all without paying a dime. However, if you plan to sell a product that requires MySQL to function, or a product with built-in functionality to use MySQL, you must buy a commercial license. Of course, if you want official support, you'll need to pay for that too

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This was first published in April 2007

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