Questions worth asking Oracle at Percona Live …

Oracle will be at Percona Live. This is a great news. Oracle was totally absent at last year edition. Not taking part to business event organized by competitors is a frequent Oracle Corporation behavior. Percona Live is a business event own by Percona (one of Oracle competitor) and some other Oracle competitors like SkySQL/MariaDB will also take part to the event. This is really nice that Oracle make this exception this year. MySQL is an open source ecosystem and having everyone at a common even is a very positive thing (even if the event is own by one of the parties and not yet a truly community even).

Gathering so many MySQL talents at the same place is exceptional. After FOSDEM 2013 event where all components of MySQL were gathered in the same room I realized how great it was to have MariaDB / Percona / Oracle peoples at the same Place. This triggers nice discussions as we all know each others for a long time and we share some common interests.

Last year Oracle was totally absent of Percona live. Oracle preferred to send all their new announcement during the conference through blogging. The community was expecting the same process this year ;-) Pushing key technical informations without interacting directly with the community was not what an open source community expect. This is great to have people live to interact with the MySQL community. MySQL is a turbulent community were discussion is a fundamental process to move things in the right direction. We are all fans of technology and having everyone at the same place will for sure trigger nice discussions.

Oracle is sending very nice ambassadors :

Tomas Ullin managing MySQL engineering at Oracle has successfully be turning MySQL into an “Enterprise Class Database”. This is great and we can definitely thank him for that. I personally was not expecting that Oracle would push MySQL in area like scalability on 64 cores, crash safe replication, enhanced security features … which turn MySQL into a product that in many cases competes very efficiently against Oracle flagship product Oracle 11g (with a much lower cost of ownership :-) ). Oracle has not yet acknowledge this fact and its marketing still position MySQL as the database for the web. For many users MySQL now is definitely much more. Most of the new support paying customers are in the enterprise market. This is a fantastic achievement.

Dimitry Kravtchuk whose benchmarking expertise has given many people an invaluable insight into the MySQL Server behavior. I consider him as the Sherlock Holmes of MySQL with all the astounding investigation he conducted on the server behavior. Most of these investigations have shed light on very peculiar behaviors and lead to the correct interpretation and trigger big progress in the code.

Luis Soares takes care of MySQL replication. Replication is with is with scalability the second most important area of MySQL. This is an area of great innovation.

All these people have a long history of commitment with MySQL as an open source product before it belonged to SUN or Oracle. They really know what an open source ecosystem is. We will have here a real opportunity to talk technical subjects and confront approach to various problems.

But beside being a product where technical excellence matter MySQL is an ecosystem with a lively community. For me leading the community does not just mean leading by having technical excellence. This is necessary but far from enough. In an open source community there are fundamental questions that cannot be avoided. Beside being a product where technical excellence matter governance and fairness is key. We all know that open source is build on values and principles based on sharing and fairness.  Like most of you I prefer technology to politics but sometime politics is essential no to be lead by small nice steps to a place where you were not initially planing to go.

Thank to Oracle for the technical excellence and the investment made and to come.

But I think of a few non technical questions that really matter for the MySQL community (Support providers, Storage engine developers, OEM customers …) and that need to be raised. These questions are fundamental for many peoples to have a clear idea of what kind of governance Oracle envision for MySQL future.

Do Oracle believe that the current MySQL development process is adapted to an open source product with a vibrant community and many active contributors ?
Oracle approach is based on no communication / no sharing with the community except the end result. This give the community no insight on the design choices which are not open to discussion. This can have a very negative impact on the ability of the MySQL community to improve the product and keep up with the code. In the past most of the key improvements, innovations, ideas have come from community members (individual, big users like Google, Facebook, Twitter …). MariaDB in this respect has kept the principle of 100% transparency. This event will be a good opportunity for the MariaDB team to show the long term benefit you get from this 100% transparent / 100% open source / open to fair competition approach.

What is the official process to guaranty that in the future the code will be released on launchpad in a timely and fair way ?
There has been multiple issues in the past regarding releasing the code late or regarding the revision history. Stewart smith(Percona) has been a good advocate on this subject. Percona depend heavily on the good will of Oracle to be able to produce their own version of the server. Any problem can greatly impact them and many others. MariaDB that fully own its own codebase as of MariaDB 10 is more immune to these issues. But MariaDB also depend on Oracle to back port features and guaranty that the MariaDB product is truly a MySQL dropin.

Do you plan to go further into providing new features as closed source extensions. Does the community has any guaranty that MySQL will under Oracle governance remain an open source product in the long term ?
The first closed source extension for MySQL(Thread pool, authentication plugin) appeared under Oracle governance in 2011. MySQL 5.6 has brought a new closed source features with the audit plugin. Adding closed source features lead to lock-in situation. Most of the closed source feature have been redeveloped by MariaDB as open source features. Redeveloping these features is an unnecessary burden for the community. Some people even consider that in this respect you do not comply with the promise made to the European commission to keep MySQL open source.

Do you plan to have a process to keep the bugs database open and to release test cases ?
There has been recently a lots of complains by the community regarding this subject. Keeping an open bug database  is vital to guaranty that third party or linux distribution can validate non regression of their version. Valeri Kravtchuk (Perconna) has with a deep knowledge of the bug process put some light on all these issues. Do we have statistics on the amount of bug entered in the public database that are turn into private ? It seems that the proportion is increasing over time. It would be great to clarify on this point and to have public numbers and justifications. Closing the bug database even partially is a long term threat to the MySQL product. I am not speaking of the second bug database used by paying customer. I imagine that in the end both the community and people running the Enterprise should hit the same bug that should end up in both bug databases. I am of course not speaking neither of bugs related to closed source features which are the sole responsibility of Oracle and where the community cannot help ;-)

Will oracle extend the period regarding the commitments they made to European Commission regarding MySQL to get clearance when buying SUN ( MySQL included ) ?
In my personal opinion this is necessary to keep MySQL community trust in Oracle governance of MySQL. Oracle commitment made to EC for 5 years will reach an end at the end of 2014 and this is raising worries for many members of the MySQL community (customers, OEM vendors, third parties developing storage engines…). To be honest rereading these commitment and putting a negative operator in front of each of them is totally and absolutely frightening for MySQL future :
http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/042364
Oracle should give guaranties to the community. They have a big responsibility in this respect.

So having Oracle at Percona Live is a really nice great news. Oracle people will be really welcome by the MySQL community. This will be a good opportunity to talk about technology and confront our vision of the future.
But it would also be nice if Oracle could bring some answers regarding their fair governance of MySQL.
Oracle has a huge responsibility in this respect and the MySQL community is very attentive on this subject.
Technical excellence of one of the actor of the MySQL ecosystem is one element among others regarding the successful future of MySQL as an open source product.

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Based on Matt Keep valuable twit on : “For those who engage in swearing & general profanity at work, a handy guide of suggested alternative phrases” I have tried to expunge my initial prose from any bad words. :-)

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