One month after Oracle announced its takeover of Sun Microsystems, the future of MySQL remains up in the air. Can the leading lightweight open source database still thrive when it's controlled by the leading proprietary commercial database vendor? So far, the prognosis doesn't look good.
Even before the Oracle buyout, there were signs of strain within the MySQL community. Not long after Sun acquired MySQL in 2008, key MySQL employees began exiting the company, including CEO Mårten Mickos and cofounder Monty Widenius. Widenius, in particular, was vocally critical of the MySQL development process under Sun's stewardship, citing rushed release cycles and poor quality control. Another MySQL cofounder, David Axmark, left out of frustration with the bureaucracy and tedium of Sun's buttoned-down corporate culture.
In the wake of this exodus came another ominous development: Forks of the MySQL codebase began to appear, including Drizzle and MariaDB, offering users and contributors ways around Sun's control of the main branch. Drizzle is an attempt to shed some of the feature bloat that has crept into recent MySQL releases, in favor of a lightweight database server aimed at cloud computing and Web applications. MariaDB, on the other hand, aims to be feature-compatible with MySQL, but it uses a brand-new, transaction-capable storage engine by default. And perhaps even more significantly, MariaDB is spearheaded by none other than Widenius himself.