Friday, December 18, 2009

Will Developers Leave Oracle Over Sun Deal?

There has been a lot of debate recently, especially in the European Union by the European Commission, as to whether or not to give the stamp of approval to the pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. The controversy is centered around MySQL. Being that Oracle is a database company with an established product that provides them with healthy margins, why would they put forth the effort to make sure that MySQL continues its success? As always, arguments abound at nearly every angle. And, I am not going to put in my two cents on this.

However, IF they slowly derail MySQL, as many fear, what will be the outcome? Will it be the second coming of the Novell/Microsoft partnership fallout? As many probably remember, since it was not that long ago, there were some negative effects for Novell after signing the partnership with Microsoft. Most notably, Jeremy Allison, among others, decided that he preferred to be an employee of another company as a result of the agreement.

Oracle employs a number of open source developers. And, their contributions to the Linux kernel should not go unnoticed. For all intents and purposes, they have been a fine open source citizen. But, if the acquisition is eventually approved and there is a slow demise of MySQL, will some of the open source developers at Oracle take umbrage and leave?

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Open source developers historically have been very true to their beliefs. And, as we have more and more proprietary companies intertwining themselves with open source derived entities, the landscape gets murky. Perhaps it is something that Oracle should give a thought to as they proceed. They may have done so already. Who knows? But, at the end of the day, a company is only as good as its employees. The thought of an exodus by developers is a real threat for these companies and is one of the great nuances of working in the open source software space.

I would thoroughly enjoy hearing peoples opinion on this. I know it is a touchy subject matter, but one that has potentially damaging ramifications for a company that is not cognizant of the feelings of its own developers.

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