As the dust begins to settle across the tech industry from the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems by rival Oracle, a number of projects in the Open Source community, including Drupal, will have major strategic decisions to make that could deeply impact their future success.
The first big question on plate is what will Oracle (and/or its next owner) of MySQL to provide the support and growth that will mirror Drupal as it continues to grow. Oracle has little to gain from throwing resources at MySQL and has shown little doubt as to what they feel are the key assets they are purchasing from Sun are, Java and Solaris. Following the MySQL path, whether its led by Oracle or some other company as many have suggested, could have unforeseen consequences going forward, either very positive or very negative.
So if you're on the side that thinks MySQL is a long-term dead end, which I am, the question then becomes what else will I be using down the line. Drupal, like many other projects, has aligned itself with MySQL for some time now as it should. The number of MySQL users by far (really far) outweighs the nearest alternative and much of the support has focused on making it compatible with the most used. That being said, with the upcoming code freeze and release of Drupal 7, my hope is that they are at the very least having the discussion.
Don't get me wrong, with their high user base MySQL isn't going to just disappear overnight and the thousands of people providing support will be available long into the future, including the lifespan of Drupal 7, but forward thinking projects need to be thinking forward as well. Some in the Drupal community, including a vocal hswong3i, have called for additional support for other databases and I believe their cries should be heard much louder. With MySQL forks galore, there should now at the very least be a new discussion as to what makes sense 3-4 years from now, which will hopefully be the pinnacle of Drupal 7's heyday and could potentially be the waining hours of MySQL.
Whatever the final decision is, the Oracle/Sun combination has at least provided us all something to think about, not to mention a wonderful case-study in strategic planning.
Thoughtful post, and definitely a concern of many people in the open source world. However, I don't think there's any real problem with Oracle owning MySQL--the great thing about open source is that it can be forked.
In the case of MySQL, it already has--there are now two active and prominent MySQL forks, and probably several others. Drizzle is a MySQL fork that aims to be optimized to run in a cloud environment. And MariaDB is a fork made by the very founder of MySQL, who's already garnered much of the MySQL development talent to his project. While Drizzle is also owned by Sun/Oracle, MariaDB is not. I think MariaDB will help keep MySQL active and going--if Oracle tries to kill MySQL, everybody will just switch to Maria. If they're smart, they'll hold onto the brand and use MariaDB as a development branch.
Either way, it's not a big issue for downstream communities like Drupal.