I was asked a few questions by a reporter thru a collegue, here is an extract of the discussion.
1) Based on your initial experience with Oracle Database Express Edition, what are your initial thoughts on the product in terms of meeting developer needs?
Installing Oracle 10g Express Edition was a breeze. (Article). In the past Oracle products have been more difficult to install, however this has gradually improved with the more recent version releases of 8i, 9i and 10g. This easy installation via rpm under Linux, in particular the inclusion of HTMLDB provides an ideal database environment that is functional in just a few minutes. This is an important first step in gaining initial developer support.
With the database installation, the Web Based HTMLDB Interface and a sound amount of developer articles online at the Oracle Technology Network ( http://otn.oracle.com), there is a lot of information to meet a developers need. In particular, HTMLDB which offers Database Administration, general SQL tools, easy data management and a complete web forms development environment. There is a learning curve in understanding this functionality, however it is an extensive and powerful tool for developers, and requires a minimum of syntax specific knowledge. With the release of Raptor in December, Oracle will have a visual tool for development, which will complement this offering in meeting developer needs.
2) As a mySQL developer, do you think it is on par with proprietary database offerings?
MySQL celebrated it’s 10 anniversary this year, and with the Release of MySQL 5.0, gave the open source community a product to match the strengths of others products with new functionality including views, stored procedures, triggers and a data dictionary. Oracle provided these features with Oracle Version 7, released in 1992, long before MySQL was even a company. In a commercial world, MySQL now offers the strengths of an Oracle Database Product, however Oracle has grown extensively and offers not only a commercial database product but an entire suite of products. MySQL is on par in a great number of areas. Granted they are catching up quickly, and the Open Source community offers features that commercial companies cannot. This includes the ability for open source companies to change, adapt and correct more quickly, bringing features and functionality to the marketplace more often, and more open support and knowledge bases enabling users to gain easier and open access. These two points offer downsides that commercial product offerings in turn offer back, including more commercial strength functionality, and more consistent and managed knowledge management, particularly in support.
3) Do you think the efforts of vendors like Microsoft and Oracle to gain mindshare with entry level versions of their products would entice mySQL developers like you to consider their higher-end database products?
I think that Oracle 10g Express Edition caters to different markets. For existing users and developers with Oracle, the opportunity to provide their products for resale at a reduced cost, with a zero cost Oracle license is a definite market and opportunity for these Oracle Partners. I think the education sector, including universities is another potential market, where a genuine free product can be used in teaching, and then practical application, and lead into usage within the professional employment. The third sector, the competitor market, which includes MySQL and Microsoft is more complicated. Oracle will need to go further to bridge the gap in convenience for MySQL developers. To sight a few examples, MySQL is generally available now in online hosting packages, on Linux Distros. It’s quick, easy and convinient to access, and is gaining significant popularity in the open source community, a good barometer in success in a developer driven environment. When Oracle can provide it’s products within a Linux Distro and you can see Online Hosting providers offering packages including the Oracle 10g Express Edition database, gaining market share will at least be more convenient.
One other strength, is MySQL being part of LAMP, and the significant wealth of open source products developed with MySQL, makes it hard for Oracle to ever gain ground in these continued product offerings. Perhaps if Oracle considered a bounty system, much like Ubuntu, and enticed developers to ensure Open Source products were Oracle compatible, would further entice MySQL developers. (Article)
The downside of these two examples, is there is no return in investment to Oracle, so it will depend on which markets are ultimately intended for Oracle 10g Express Edition. (Article)
4) Among the proprietary database vendors, who do you think has the best offering in your opinion, and where would mySQL fit in?
In this marketplace, there is a platitude of Database Offerings (can provide a list if you want), Oracle has always been the market leader in the commercial space, and there still is no other offering to match this. Historically, software development with databases was undertaken by IT professionals and there were a small number of commercial products available. Oracle gained a large market share in the past 20 years and has kept up with technology advancement. In the past 10 years, the Open Source community has changed the shape of the product offerings, and has also change the type of developers. There is a divide between the professional developers with qualifications and specific experience in software development in a structured development environment, and the new age of developers that have easy access to tools and information, and can easily contributed to an open source project that may have hundreds or thousands of developers worldwide, but they do at times lack solid grounding, and this can lead to bad habits. Depending on your requirements, a large commercial organisation, or a small webstore and blog, there are different needs, and you can’t therefore compare database products based solely on features. You need to include the customer requirements, as well as the ability for a database product to grow and adapt to your business in the ever changing environment.
I think in this day and age, there needs to be a tolerance between multiple database offerings within organisations. As the CIO or CTO of a large organisation, I would hope that different needs within the organisation would lead to two database products in use and synergy, both Oracle and MySQL.