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Oracle's MySQL buy shifts open source database market

Concerns about the fate of MySQL under Oracle ownership impacted the open source database market, with users increasing PostgreSQL adoption over MySQL.

Concerns about the fate of MySQL under Oracle Corp.'s ownership has affected the open source database market, with users saying they will increase PostgreSQL adoption while distancing themselves from the MySQL.

MySQL share of the open database market is expected to drop from 82.1% today to 78.7% in 2011, declining to 72.3% by 2014, due in part to Oracle's planned acquisition of MySQL owner Sun Microsystems, according to a recent survey of 347 open source users by The 451 Group, a New York-based technology research firm.

"The proposed acquisition of Sun and MySQL by Oracle has raised significant concerns among open source software users about the future of MySQL," said The 451 Group's Senior Analyst, Matt Aslett. "While most are happy to continue to use the product, a significant proportion would be less inclined toward MySQL were it owned by Oracle, and usage of MySQL is expected to decline over the next five years."

In order to gain the blessing of European regulators on its bid to buy Sun Microsystems, Oracle has issued reassurances that it will not stop developing or supporting MySQL.

MySQL is used in most segments of the fragmented open source database market, including the Web app space, (along with SQLite), the desktop space (along with Firebird), and in the embedded market.

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For that reason, MySQL and PostgreSQL user John Locke, manager of the Seattle-based open source consultancy business Freelock Computing, doesn't think Oracle can get away with squashing MySQL.

"I don't really see Oracle being able to kill it," Locke said. "It's got such a broad base of use that if they did so, there would be a huge backlash against them--and one of the MySQL forks would just fill the vacuum."

PostgreSQL gets a boost
For enterprise applications, PostgreSQL and Ingres are the most commonly used databases. PostgreSQL adoption is seen increasing from 27.1% today to 30.5% in 2011 and stay steady through 2014, according to The 451 Group research This increase is attributed, in part, to PostgreSQL being a product of an open source development community -- it is not associated with a single company-- and thus cannot be acquired, Aslett said.

It is also a strong product that many database shops say offers more functionality than MySQL. Locke said he uses PostgreSQL because it "provides all the more traditional database functionality anyone could want, with great support for stored functions and procedures, broad support for many different languages to use in stored functions, and lots of great transaction support."

Open source databases offer flexibility, cost savings
With the good enterprise functionality, service and support of today's open source databases, overall adoption is on the rise - driven by frustration over proprietary database licensing and high costs, The 451 Group's recent survey shows.

"We have seen a willingness to adopt OS software increase this year," Aslett said. "Over the last year, pressure on IT budgets has increased across the board, as well as unhappiness surrounding vendor lock-in has driven adoption."

The benefits of open source databases include better flexibility and cost savings, in that order. Colin Dean, a programmer, developer, and IT consultant, works for a nine-year old company that uses open source SQLite database for those two reasons.

"Because we can see the source, we can modify it and improve it to meet our speed requirements," Dean said.

Dean also uses an open source database for the personal profile directory web site he co-founded, called "We chose to use MySQL because it's easily available for free and because its interoperability with PHP is second to none."

Locke said open source databases offer the same benefits of closed source options. "If I were implementing new applications from scratch, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to use a proprietary database," he said.

But other open source users will give in to Oracle and adopt its closed source database: Use of Oracle's database among open source users will increase slightly from 19.3% today to 19.6% in 2011 and 21.6% in 2014, The 451 Group survey showed. "So the expected decline in MySQL usage cannot be attributed to the proposed acquisition alone," Aslett said.

With MySQL in limbo this year, there has also been strong interest in other open source databases, including HadoopDB, Drizzle, MongoDB, Cassandra DB and CouchDB, which will probably continue through 2010, Aslett said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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