MySql dips its toe into closed source

By Deane Barker on April 17, 2008

MySQL reserves features for paying customers; open-source community up in arms: This is interesting, and perhaps not surprising given the acquisition.

Open-source darling MySQL is facing a new uprising within its customer base over plans disclosed this week to reserve some key upcoming features, and their source code, for paying users of its namesake database.

Officials at Sun Microsystems Inc., which acquired MySQL in February, confirmed that new online backup capabilities now under development will be offered only to MySQL Enterprise customers — not to the much larger number of users of the free MySQL Community edition.

This will have very little effect on the Web development community, since we’re not the ones to use the high-end features anyway. It’s more targeted at making sure enterprise customers are truly paying for the product.

There’s really two ways this can develop:

  1. From here on out, all “enterprise-y” features are only released to the Enterprise version of the product
  2. There’s some delay, with these features eventually filtering to the Community version after some arbitrary time period has elapsed

Try as I might, I just can’t fault MySQL for this. Read this Wired article about the acquisition:

One analyst thinks MySQL’s annual revenue may come in at $70 million to $85 million.

“Less than 1 percent of MySQL users pay,” wrote Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry. “Users are in the habit of getting free stuff and it’s impossible to break the habit… We don’t see Sun (being) able to monetize it.”

Open source is wonderful, but there comes a point where a company has to turn a profit. Sun didn’t cough up $1 billion just for fun.