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MySQL partner community talks of market maturation, despite lackluster Oracle channel support

Despite Oracle’s lack of marketing support for MySQL, VARs and developers are seeing success with the database with the help of SkySQL and recent enterprise-features.

Oracle has delivered on its pledge to add enterprise-worthy features to MySQL, but some solution providers say the company has done little to nurture the MySQL partner ecosystem since acquiring the technology in January 2010.

Many open source developers supporting a MySQL practice re-evaluated that position when Oracle Corp. bought Sun Microsystems -- and, subsequently, MySQL. Their worry was that Oracle would neuter innovation in favor of its proprietary database. While open source developers say that fear has been largely unfounded, they also say Oracle could do more to support partners building applications for the MySQL platform.

“There is still a major opportunity for Oracle to engage the partner ecosystem in the MySQL space,” said Paul Vallée, executive chairman and founder of Pythian Group Inc., a database and applications infrastructure management company based in Ottawa, Canada. Pythian, which was a Platinum partner of both Sun and Oracle prior to the acquisition, continues to see plenty of customer enthusiasm for the MySQL platform.

Raj Thukral, Pythian senior consultant, said MySQL applications have matured beyond their traditional role at the center of Web and e-commerce sites into distributed solutions that demand plenty of processing power. Many companies using MySQL have more than one database platform in place, he said.

“The one thing that Oracle has done is [to] provide a very solid roadmap and release cycle,” Thukral said. “This is reinforcing the perception that this is stable and well-received technology.”

As a result, Pythian’s team has seen few accounts migrate away from MySQL since the Oracle acquisition. “Now that the dust has settled, we are back to where we were,” Thukral said.

However, Vallée said Pythian could be even more effective at evangelizing the value of MySQL solutions with better Oracle marketing and business development support. “Oracle is not doing any work to accelerate our growth,” he said.

That stature has provided an opening for developers such as SkySQL, a San Jose, Calif.-based MySQL developer, to see an opportunity to connect with businesses that want to invest in MySQL applications but are leery of being locked into a single database vendor.

Many of SkySQL’s clients are concerned over modifications to the entry-level SLAs for Oracle’s MySQL distribution and price increases in licensing, said SkySQL CEO Ulf Sandberg.

“We have customers that find out about us and see that there is an alternative. We have customers coming in with new projects,” he said.

SkySQL, founded in October 2010 by former members of the MySQL development team, provides services including support for the MySQL database, training for database administrators and consulting for MySQL deployments.

SkySQL is courting members of the MySQL database partner community that feel displaced by the current level of Oracle’s commitment to the technology. “Part of our strategy is to develop those partners,” Sandberg said.

In particular, SkySQL is preparing for companies seeking to build applications for delivery via the cloud. Data suggests that there are more than 2 million instances of MySQL sitting at the heart of cloud services, Sandberg said.

“Our end goal is to continue the enterprise play, but we want to be known as the cloud database,” he said.

About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York City area with more than 20 years’ experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.

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