Skip the navigation

MySQL, Google close to code contribution deal

Search giant has already released custom add-ons to system

By Eric Lai
April 27, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google Inc. and MySQL AB are close to finalizing a deal that could find the open-source database vendor incorporating powerful features created by the search giant into future versions of the popular database.

On Monday, Google publicly released the source code for several custom features it had built in-house to enhance the performance and reliability of its search engine. The add-ons were released via the General Public License (GPL).

Google’s announcement, done without MySQL and on the eve of MySQL’s annual worldwide conference in Santa Clara, Calif., appeared to be a subtle attempt to put pressure on MySQL to add the features to the official version of the software, something the company has until recently been loath to do.

Since then, sources say Google has signed a Contributor License Agreement (CLA), a key legal document required by MySQL to accept source code from outside companies or developers and port it to its popular database, reportedly used in 11 million servers worldwide.

Google is widely believed to be the largest MySQL user in the world, with hundreds or even thousands of MySQL servers running in data centers around the world.

What remains to be worked out are the exact features that Google will transfer to MySQL and the compensation MySQL will offer in return, which could range from symbolic gifts such as T-shirts to monies up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Steve Curry, a MySQL spokesman. Curry declined to confirm the status of the deal.

A schizophrenic approach?

Most open-source software is created jointly by programmers working in their spare time as well as by commercial firms that typically make money by offering paid support for the product.

The best example is the Linux operating system. Development of the core kernel is overseen by Linus Torvalds, a volunteer, who accepts contributions from developers ranging from Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Oracle Corp. all the way, in theory, to student hackers.

By contrast, MySQL has long had a "single-entity development model," according to Stephen O’Grady, a Denver-based analyst at RedMonk Inc.

While MySQL has welcomed bug fixes submitted by the community and even encouraged third-party software companies to build data storage engines that plugged into MySQL and replaced MySQL’s own default engines, it has rarely accepted add-ons to the core database from outsiders, an attitude that O’Grady called "schizophrenic."

That has prevented MySQL from adding desired new features in what some users, including Google, consider a timely fashion.

"We can do things faster than MySQL, so we decided we just couldn’t wait," said Mark Callaghan, the software developer at Google who posted the source code for the MySQL add-ons. He was speaking Thursday at the MySQL conference.

Our Commenting Policies
Internet of Things: Get the latest!
Internet of Things

Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!