There has been some discussion about MySQL’s recent moves to clarify the targeting between MySQL Community Server & MySQL Enterprise Server. Essentially, MySQL wants to make it clear(er) that Community Server is free and for those of us who are willing to “spend time to save money”. Community Server is the version that will be made available to Linux distros and passed on to customers that use MySQL inside of their Linux distro without support. Enterprise server is for paying customers; those of you willing to “spend money to save time”. The source for Enterprise Server will no longer be publicly available unless you are a paying customer. This is 100% in keeping with the GPL (as you have to provide source to the customers you provide the binaries to). There is nothing that prevents a paying MySQL Enterprise customer from posting the source for the broader community to see/use.

There was also a change in the way new features are applied to future source trees versus the current stable release. This is a good step forward although some users want the ability to apply patches to the current stable release to get new features faster. I guess these users still can, but the official MySQL Community Server will act more “Traditional software like” in its release cycles.

In further explaining the move to clearly differentiate between Community/Enterprise, Kaj Arno states:

“..a successful commercial company behind MySQL fuels the virtuous circle from which the community benefits in the form of new GPL features developed by MySQL AB.”

Marten re-iterates this in comments to Mike Kruckenberg who disagreed with the move:

“I know I am biased, but I also happen to think that it is good for the community when MySQL AB has a well-functioning business model. With the money we make we can produce more GPL software.”

I really like how Marten simplifies these types of decisions. He’s simply saying: “if you want to get a great, free db, then you have to let us, MySQL AB, make money to pay for development, marketing, etc.” If you, as a free user, think this is a bad decision, or that MySQL isn’t acting OSSey enough, then consider the alternative. Imagine if MySQL AB can’t grow or shrinks and you get a lower quality or less function rich free product down the road. Ah! but the community could take over and do a better job than MySQL AB, right? Anything is possible, but we should exclude edge cases and consider what is truly possible/probable. Can the community really do a better job (more cost effectively) than MySQL AB is doing with all of their resources?

Free is great, but for an OSS vendor, somebody needs to be paying or else the OSS vendor’s employees can’t pay their bills! There is no magic here.

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”