In most companies, there are prohibitions against creating competitive, derivative works of the company's intellectual property. At MySQL (now Sun), well, things may be a little different.
As announced at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, Brian Aker, MySQL's director of architecture, has launched Drizzle, an optimized and trimmed-down version of the popular open-source MySQL database.
In other words, MySQL has forked itself. "The right to fork" is, of course, a cardinal right of open source.
But forking is usually driven by rival factions on a project (e.g., the Adempiere developers forking Compiere). In MySQL's case, its own employees created the fork, a fork that has the blessing of Sun's senior management, according to MySQL co-founder Monty Widenius.
Personally, I find it a bit odd. If the fork was needed, why not work within the company to offer it as a separate product? But then, for those who have worked with passionate open-source developers like MySQL employs, sometimes the best policy is simply to step back and let the magic happen, even if it initially appears not to be in the company's interests. Perhaps this could end up being a supported database for Sun?