A friend passed on a link to Kevin Burton’s post titled: “Destroying MySQL”. In the post, Kevin asks what actions would be required to have a negative impact on the use of MySQL.  He then attempts to draw the conclusion that Sun/MySQL Co. are (unwittingly) executing against his hypothetical action plan.

While I’ll leave it to you to evaluate the merits of Kevin’s overall argument, the following text caught my attention:

“I’m not going to be buying MySQL Enterprise anytime soon. Further, I’m actively discouraging people from purchasing it…

Why? It’s just a bad deal. They’re going to give you a binary which isn’t tested by the community and has limited development. How is this a good idea?

I’m going to be throwing down $20-30k in 2009 on MySQL development but it isn’t going to be given to Sun, MySQL, or Oracle. It’s going to be given to companies like Percona, Open Query, or Proven Scaling that actually care about their customers and release stable fixes to MySQL community.”

Kevin’s comments highlight an interesting point regarding features only available in an enterprise edition.  I’ll speak generally going forward, because MySQL is not the only OSS company following, or on the verge of following, this approach.

We all know that the Open Source Software business model benefits from the testing done by “the community”.  This is supposed to lead to higher quality software and lower development (and testing) costs to the OSS vendor creating the product.  However, as “enterprise only” features are added to the mix, can we assume that the development-related benefits of the OSS business model are retained for these “enterprise only” pieces?

It’s logical to assume that the enterprise only features will not be of the same quality as the community code.  This is because fewer users will touch these features and uncover bugs.  However, vendors highlight “additional testing” as a benefit of their enterprise edition.  So, I could be convinced that the code quality will remain high.  However, this form of testing results in higher costs to the OSS vendor.  I’d argue that the development cost savings of the OSS business model are negated for enterprise only features, if not for the enterprise only product on whole.

I find this interesting because it’s further evidence that as the OSS business model matures, its resemblance to the closed source software business model grows. Which, if you ask me, is goodness for the industry as a whole.

What do you think?