In an interview this week, Mickos said Oracle may not understand or care much about open source and the task of fostering community involvement, but Oracle seems committed to the products themselves, and he has no complaints about Oracle's technical expertise. Version 5.5 of the MySQL database "probably is the best MySQL version ever produced," and the upcoming version 5.6 is looking strong as well, Mickos said.
"It's brilliant engineering and they are under the GPL license, completely open source, fantastically built, a low number of bugs, well tested and QA'd. All of that is fantastic," Mickos said. "But where you see it already changing is that in community engagement, discussion forums, bug databases, online documentation, you see how they are moving MySQL into the same mode as other Oracle products. Many in the community will react against it and feel that it's not as open and open source as it used to be and that's true. That's why you see new companies springing up and catering to that need. But the core product, the actual code, is in better shape than ever. And I think they will keep it that way."
Sun acquired MySQL in 2008, with Mickos staying on as a vice president until the next year. Mickos said he loved working for Sun but "didn't think Sun could survive on its own." Shortly after he announced his departure, the Oracle merger was revealed, with Sun ceasing to exist as a standalone company in early 2010. Mickos is now the CEO of cloud vendor Eucalyptus and is in the Boston area this week for the Red Hat Summit.
Oracle, Mickos said, has continued development of MySQL under the same vision set forth before the mergers. MySQL's traditional limitation was that it couldn't scale up, preventing the database from exploiting Sun's big servers. But MySQL could scale out, and that is becoming a very important attribute in the new world of cloud computing, he said.
When asked if Oracle is doing a better job with MySQL than he did, Mickos said, "I would tend to think I was a wonderful CEO and I did everything absolutely right. And we did it very well. The plans we had, they [Oracle] continued to execute on it. The long-term version, they are continuing to execute on it. They are reaching new heights with the technology, exactly as we would have done on our own. But they are really doing it. Many times when technology is acquired by somebody they sort of stop developing it or development slows down. But it hasn't -- they are moving along on the same ambitious plan we had three years ago, four years ago."
Mickos is moving along too, with Eucalyptus Systems, maker of an open source cloud-building platform. "We are trying to build one of the most significant software companies of this era," he said.