May 5, 2003

MySQL and NetWare: An interview with MySQL's David Axmark and Larry Stefonic

- by James E. Gaskin -
"We're the Access for Linux," says David Axmark, co-founder and OpenSorcerer (yes, that's the title on his business card) for MySQL AB. Now Axmark wants MySQL to be the database of choice for NetWare customers everywhere. The company announced at Novell's BrainShare conference last month that the full version 4.0 of its flagship database would ship with NetWare 6.5 this summer.

The two companies signed a long-term agreement last September granting Novell a commercial license arrangement and the rights to distribute MySQL inside the NetWare 6.5 product box. Though all other MySQL distribution arrangements, such as with various Linux vendors, ship with the GPL license, Novell's does not, meaning customers need not reveal code written for MySQL on NetWare. Open source licensing makes enterprises "uncomfortable," says Axmark, and he doesn't want licensing confusion to limit installations.

NetWare has been warming up to open source applications for the past year or so. MySQL for NetWare 6, the current release, has been available for about six months, Axmark says. MySQL version 4.0 will ship with NetWare 6.5 this summer. Axmark mentioned that MySQL may include a 4.1 beta release in the box, depending on timing.

To get in Novell's good graces, MySQL took a bottom-up strategy. Axmark started talking to Novell's Business Development and Developer Support groups more than two years ago. Finding several Novell employees willing to evangelize for MySQL inside Novell, Axmark and Executive Vice President Larry Stefonic kept pushing. "We wanted to get deeper into the enterprise," Stefonic says, "and Novell wanted to get deeper into the open source community."

"Our enterprise push is [just] getting started," Axmark says, even though MySQL includes Google and Yahoo as customers. "We're gaining credibility now, but open source concerns remain in the enterprise concerning performance, reliability, and scalability." Axmark and Stefonic believe partnering with Novell gives them multiple paths into the enterprise to engage multiple levels of management.

Novell folks are meeting MySQL more than halfway. A half-dozen Novell employees attended MySQL's User Conference the week before BrainShare, giving demonstrations and generating good will. MySQL manned its own booth in BrainShare's exhibits area, giving multiple presentations for programmers and making executives available to the press.

The two companies now have a record of shared development to build on. Porting MySQL to NetWare was "minor on our end," says Axmark, "and Novell people did most of the work." The next push will be toward administration tools and third-party development group support.

James E. Gaskin writes books, articles, and jokes about technology and real life. He started consulting and writing in the open world 14 years ago as a columnist with Unix Today! (which became Open Systems Today).


  • Open Source
Click Here!