Product management, effective developers, and the future of MySQL

Posted in: Technical Track

I am writing because Sheeri sent me a note about a blog post written by Brian Aker, where Brian concludes, quite correctly, that (in Sheeri’s words not Brian’s)

MySQL is now just a branch (the official branch,
but a branch nonetheless, and a bunch of trademark (logo) and
copyright (docs) ownerships).

This is exactly true. No denying it. Why bother. It’s true. It’s also true for the vast majority of open-source projects, by the way.

I replied to Sheeri:

There's no denying that. The product direction will be set by whoever sets the best product management strategy backed by the most effective development effort. And there can be multiple winners.

Well, this is the kind of quality output I can be relied on. It might not fit on twitter, but it’s not blogworthy. Sheeri’s word of encouragement:

See, now that would be a nice blog post with a positive outlook that
both Oracle Corp and MySQL community would agree and be happy with,
because both Oracle Corp and the MySQL community feel they can set
"the best product management strategy backed by the most effective
development effort."

God. My reply was embarassing but maybe I should include it for humour value:

Go for it. Its a tweet for me at the most. No time to expand that thinking into a blog worthy of the blog today.

and then, right away,

ah censored it i'll do it.
it'll be short.

You are now reading the result of this very modest effort.

Here’s the future of MySQL, Drizzle, Monty Program, the Percona fork, etc.

The best product management strategies… should we be lightweight for the web, plug-in oriented like Drizzle? Should we follow Monty’s giant-killing roadmap? Should we focus on performance-oriented patches? The best product management strategies will win.

They can’t win alone. Will they be backed by appropriate investments from effective developers? Effective developers are the ones who convert winning product management strategies into working products. You can’t get there without them and I’ve seen lots of great strategies fail that test (including my own actually).

And there can be more than one winner.

It’s doesn’t matter what roadmap Oracle plots for MySQL. If it’s not the roadmap the community wants, it will lose ground and open an opportunity for another fork. If it is, however, (and NEVER, NEVER underestimate Oracle’s product management because it is outstanding and a big component of their historical success), if it is, however, Oracle can win the long-term hearts and minds, because they can resource quality developers in a way that I don’t think any of the competing forks are capitalized to do (yet.)

Either way, it’s going to be fun to watch.

And more than one player can win.

And regardless, the community wins. Big time.



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About the Author

As Pythian’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul leads this center of excellence for expert, outsourced technical services for companies whose systems are directly tied to revenue growth and business success. His passion and foresight for using data and technology to drive business success has helped Pythian become a high-growth global company with over 400 employees and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul, who started his career as a data scientist, founded Pythian when he was 25 years old. In addition to driving the business, Paul is a vocal proponent of diversity in the workplace, human rights, and economic empowerment. He supports his commitment through Pythian’s hiring and retention practices, his role as board member for the Basic Income Canada Network, and as a supporter of women in technology.

5 Comments. Leave new

I think you’re making a mistake in attempt to portray something that may happen as if it has already happened. MariaDB went GA just a few months ago (the question of quality of this GA being shunned, eh?) Drizzle is not GA yet.
Percona is a patch set and not an independent fork — I trust you can see the difference.
When these forks begin to provide community with regular quality releases, like MySQL has been doing all these years, we can compare apples to apples.
And so far it’s more or less much ado about nothing.


Hi Kostja,

If what you’re saying is that the competing forks have incomplete roadmaps, unambitious roadmaps, suspicious quality development, etc. I fail to see how you are disagreeing with me at all.

While I would hesitate to comment on the status and quality of the forks – that’s not the point of my post at all. What I’m getting at is that there is, other than the “bunch of trademark (logo) and copyright (docs) ownerships)” there is an even playing field here thanks to the GPL. And the best PM+DEV team will win market share. And multiple winners can exist since this is not a zero-sum game.

I also believe that it is madness to underestimate Oracle given their track record at PM, which is impressive and consistent over the time I’ve been watching until now (early 1990s to now – well over 15 years), and their access to leading developers in the database field. :)



I think the bar will be raised for the forks as official MySQL is in good shape — InnoDB and MySQL can work together now, releases will have fewer delays and MySQL marketing will focus more on growing their business.


or we may see a collapse of a giant fish affected with “virus”.
oracle very effectively used the OSS virus against every opponents and gain the market. but it won’t be a big surprise for me if the same affect their own business.

They That Take The Sword Shall Perish
With The Sword (Matthew 26:52)

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[…] Vallée of Pythian responds with his ideas on product management, effective developers, and the future of MySQL. “ . . . the future of MySQL, Drizzle, Monty Program, the Percona fork, […]


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