In a unique display of mass hysteria, one blogger after the other and even slashdot (no, I’m not going to link) managed to take the completely innocent message that certain new enterprise features might get released as closed source only and turn it into an ongoing bad press onslaught about “MySQL closing down source code”.
Why don’t you all give MySQL a break here please? The rule is always the same for everybody: the one that writes the code gets to pick the license. Listen, I 100% believe in open source and I consider myself to be a big advocate, but commercial open source companies like MySQL (and Pentaho) are commercial entities. At lease try to put yourself in their position for a second. For example, if a customer asks you to NOT to release a piece of software they paid for, you don’t release it, it’s that simple.
In the end, what MySQL is doing is simple: they are experimenting with a commercial open source (COS) model. Why are they experimenting? Because the concept of COS is very new and there are no clear guidelines. It simply hasn’t been done before. How do you keep growing? How do you keep paying more open source developers? How do you pay for the millions of web hits each day? How do you pay for the millions of downloads, the Tera bytes of internet traffic? How do you guarantee your long term survival? How do you strike a balance between commercial success and widespread open source adoption? How do you keep your investors happy as well as your community?
I guess we learned one thing the past week : it’s easier to spout criticism than to give answers to these tough questions.