'MySQL Leads Open Source Market Share,' claims headline. True?

By Sharon Machlis

"MySQL Leads Open Source Market Share," says the headline on ReadWriteHack. Really? Among whom?

Turns out this data comes from Jelastic, a beta platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider offering Java in the cloud -- the numbers reflect choices made by their 1,000+ developers.

Now I don't doubt that these numbers accurately reflect usage patterns at Jelastic. But here's why I wouldn't assume that developers at one cloud-based startup represent all open-source database users:

* Developers who opt for a start-up cloud provider may not be an accurate sample of users overall, and so as a group make different choices than the entire universe of open-source database users;

* Java developers may, as a group, tend to make different choices than developers who use other platforms;

* Cloud users may make different choices than those who host in-house;

* Jelastic is only available in North America and Europe. Since the Jelastic data shows different levels of popularity in Europe and North America, it's likely that numbers would be different still in other regions of the world for Java developers choosing a beta cloud platform. Do Asia, South America, Australia and Africa not count at all?

"Granted this is just one company's view of things, but given that the numbers are still interesting," the story says. Unfortunately, neither the headline nor tweet carried a similar caveat.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised at all if MySQL is the top open-source database around the world. But that doesn't justify using a sample of users of a single Java cloud company as a sample set to reflect all open-source database users around the world. After all, data that confirm our own beliefs and prejudices is information that requires more skeptical analysis, not less.

See more from the Data Avenger series.

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is smachlis@computerworld.com. You can follow her on Twitter  @sharon000, on Facebook, on Google+ or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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