MySQL needs to retain open source roots to keep developer base, survey shows

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Nine in 10 respondents claim the primary reason their company uses the MySQL database is because of its open source nature, according to a survey from SkySQL.

And there’s bad news attached to that statement: a whopping 94% admitted they would move to MariaDB if MySQL lots its open source power.

The survey opened up some interesting thoughts on the development of MySQL, which has only been on the market since 1995. More than half (57%) of respondents have used MySQL for between three and 10 years, with over a quarter (28%) using MySQL for over 10 years.

This gives an indication of the longevity of the system, and the loyalty of companies using it – but the tide may be turning.

Perhaps the most worrying statistic was that four in five (79%) organisations only use internal resources to support MySQL. 9% used Oracle, with 8% opting for survey creators SkySQL and 4% Percona.

MariaDB (94%) proved by far the most popular alternative, with PostgreSQL (30%), Percona (19%) and MongoDB (16%) trailing behind.

This may be seen as bad news for Oracle, who owns the trademark to MySQL following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems back in 2009. Yet, as TechCrunch reported last year, Oracle’s holding back of test cases in the latest MySQL release led reporter Alex Williams to conclude that the open source database wasn’t number one priority at Redwood.

“It’s pretty clear that Oracle is trying to make it as difficult as possible to use MySQL,” he wrote.

MariaDB was originally released earlier that year by Monty Widenius, the founder of MySQL, amid concerns of the direction the database was taking under the stewardship of Oracle.

For SkySQL, who claims to be the “guardian” of MariaDB, this isn’t the worst news.

“The core ingredients when trying to build a tech success like MySQL are simple, but hard to maintain: a strong customer service ethos, value for money and accessibility,” noted Patrik Sallner, SkySQL CEO. “However, it shows some users [are] nervous and willing to use alternative databases.

“We play to work on how best we can serve the MySQL and MariaDB communities with the great service they deserve,” he added.

The survey also noted primary reasons why companies picked a particular database, as well as reasons for choosing MySQL. The most important facet in any database was the consistency of data, according to respondents, followed by the strength of the community and reliable high availability.

Reliability (49%) and high performance (48%) were also the most popular reasons companies picked MySQL behind its open source capability, followed by value for money (47%) and no vendor lock-in (39%).

What do you make of the survey results, and the current position of MySQL?

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