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Oracle loses some MySQL mojo

Oracle veteran and MySQL sympathizer Ken Jacobs has resigned from the database giant, calling into question Oracle's ability to deliver on its MySQL promises.

Ken Jacobs Oracle

Ever since Oracle closed on its acquisition of MySQL, the open-source world has been wondering where the code has gone. Many people searched, fruitlessly, for the formerly available MySQL source code.

They might have done better to search for Oracle's point person on MySQL, Ken Jacobs.

On Friday, Jacobs announced his resignation from Oracle to key members of the MySQL team via e-mail. Jacobs, a 28-year Oracle veteran and one of its first 20 hires, has been Oracle's liaison with the MySQL community for the past several years, ever since Oracle acquired the popular MySQL storage engine, InnoDB.

While Jacobs doesn't give an explicit reason for his departure, he does hint at disappointment that he was not selected to run MySQL's database business post-acquisition. "I imagine you all know that I will not be leading the MySQL GBU, as I had expected," he said.

I share that disappointment.

I, among others, worried that Oracle's acquisition of InnoDB effectively amounted to a hostile takeover of MySQL's financial fortunes, but such has not been the case. Arguably, Jacobs is a primary reason that Oracle's ownership of InnoDB has been peaceful, not a declaration of war.

I don't expect Jacobs' departure to significantly alter Oracle's plans for MySQL, which I believe to be good (the temporary absence of source code notwithstanding), but I do worry that his thoughtful interaction with the open-source community will be missed.

Jacobs, himself, in his departure e-mail, noted the benefits MySQL will receive from Oracle's ownership:

I know that there are many people in the open source community who are concerned about Oracle's plans for MySQL. They are wrong to worry. Oracle will keep its commitments to invest in MySQL, and help grow the business. Oracle will make MySQL better. Doing so gives Oracle a presence in new markets, and the resources and investment Oracle will make should mean great things for customers, as well as the larger community.

You will find Oracle a terrific place to work! I believe it is good for MySQL (the product, the company, the people and the community) that you are now part of a software company. And a database company. And a company that is profitable, and that innovates and delivers high customer satisfaction. That's where MySQL belongs!

Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect, will be overseeing all-things-open-source at Oracle, leaving less room for Jacobs but also demonstrating Oracle's positive intentions for MySQL. Screven reports directly to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and should be a good advocate for MySQL within the company.

Even so, I will miss Jacobs. I have had many interactions with him over the years, and he has always proved to be a thoughtful, measured advocate for and defender of Oracle. His influence will be missed at Oracle as it takes on the arduous task of managing the world's largest database community.