Is Oracle killing off MySQL?

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Yesterday we covered a story about how Oracle was now cracking down on licensing Java, which started as a free open source tool. Now, Peter Zaitsev, a seasoned MySQL engineer, has raised concerns that Oracle’s focus on proprietary features might be sidelining the open-source MySQL database, potentially leading to its decline.

Zaitsev, who has a deep history with MySQL and founded the database consultancy Percona, recently critiqued Oracle’s stewardship of MySQL in a blog post. He pointed out that Oracle’s recent emphasis on its MySQL Heatwave analytics service, which includes exclusive features not available in the open-source version, might be restricting MySQL’s broader adoption.

According to Zaitsev, MySQL is:

  • Lacking Parallel Query Execution: Unlike other major databases, open-source MySQL still lacks parallel query execution, a critical feature given the rise of multi-core CPUs.
  • Missing  Features in Heatwave: Features like analytical query acceleration, machine learning capabilities, and vector search are available only in Heatwave, not in open-source MySQL.
  • Neglecting Performance Improvements:** Zaitsev noted that while MySQL’s performance on single-thread workloads has degraded, competitors like MariaDB and PostgreSQL have managed to improve performance while adding new features.

Zaitsev suggested that Oracle might consider transferring the maintenance of open-source MySQL to an independent entity, like the Linux Foundation, if it no longer finds value in maintaining it. This could allow other major stakeholders, like AWS and Google Cloud, to contribute more significantly to its development.

Not all industry experts agree with Zaitsev’s assessment. Some believe Oracle’s focus on MySQL-as-a-Service (MySQLaaS) doesn’t necessarily spell the end for open-source MySQL, though concerns about its future persist.

MySQL remains the most popular open-source database according to DB-Engines, but PostgreSQL is catching up and has overtaken MySQL as the most popular database among developers, according to the 2023 Stack Overflow survey.

Zaitsev warns that unless Oracle addresses the needs of modern developers, MySQL might decline, whether through neglect or a strategic shift towards proprietary solutions.

The future of MySQL hangs in the balance, and Oracle’s next moves will be critical in determining whether the beloved open-source database thrives or withers.

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