One of MySQL’s notable projects was splitting the product into two editions: Enterprise Edition and Community Edition. This move alienated many in the community, and failed to create meaningful differentiation on either side, even with a team of people beating the community bushes for “contributions.” The net differentiation was ultimately Jeremy Cole’s SHOW PROFILES functionality, which made Community better than Enterprise. Sun put less effort into making this split work, and eventually they abandoned it.

But that could change under Oracle’s stewardship. Oracle’s promises to maintain a GPL version don’t preclude it, and the fact that they thought it worth mentioning explicitly seems significant. Here’s a quote from the press release:

Oracle will not release any new, enhanced version of MySQL Enterprise Edition without contemporaneously releasing a new, also enhanced version of MySQL Community Edition licensed under the GPL. Oracle shall continue to make the source code of all versions of MySQL Community Edition publicly available at no charge.

This manages to sound generous, but a) the second sentence is simply what’s required by law as a consequence of the first sentence, and b) there has been no MySQL Enterprise/Community split for quite a while. So although this press release seems to say that Oracle would be maintaining the status quo, I am not sure that impression is supported by the facts.

I’ve always said that the split didn’t have to be a business failure. I think Oracle could be quite capable of making this work where MySQL couldn’t and Sun decided to stop trying.

A renewed commitment to the split could re-alienate many in the community. It might also result in a closed-source Enterprise Edition of MySQL, a tactic that MySQL themselves tried but abandoned.

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