From MySQL to SkySQL - Reflections

This month marked SkySQL's first anniversary.  It also marks my 6 months with the company, after being with MySQL AB (and then Sun and finally Oracle) for over 5 years. As good a time as any for a look back and some musings of the future.

In late 2005 I took a position in the web team (a part of Marketing) at MySQL AB.  It was a great company to work for, with a great team of people and a truly great spirit.  The idea that they were making a difference every day was palpable. I then saw it taken over by Sun Microsystems and shortly after by Oracle Corporation.  We went from 500 employees to 30,000 and then to 100,000.  My job satisfaction started to decline.  I felt more like I was battling for every concession rather than revelling in what we were able to achieve.  I needed a change.

When I joined SkySQL it was like going home - I knew pretty much everyone at the company and that great spirit of family, that sense of being able to achieve great things, the coming together of like minds with a shared vision was what drew me there and continues to inspire me.  It is, after all, about the people.  The team that created the world class support that MySQL AB was renowned for, the team that developed the training courses that brought MySQL knowledge to thousands, the management that inspired me in the early days at MySQL AB were all here, doing what they do best.

One of the prime reasons I moved from Oracle was that I saw from the inside the change in focus on MySQL. I saw that the team that manages the mysql.com domains cut from 6 down to 2. I saw the desperate backroom struggles to ensure the MySQL community sites were not taken down. I saw some truly stupid management decisions based solely on personal animosity rather than sound business sense. I saw the sales team starved of leads because of that stupidity. I saw the inter-departmental rivalry that instead of being a force for excellence was a block to cooperation and a stifling of innovation. I saw great talent leaving the company in an air of pessimism.

What I see in SkySQL is an optimism and a sense of shared goal, a vitality and a willingness to go beyond the normal to achieve excellence. I see what we used to call the "can-do" spirit.  That ethos is what keeps me showing up at work each day, trying to do my part in the bigger picture and making SkySQL the first place you think of when you think open databases.

There are some exciting things happening at SkySQL and the future is looking very bright.  I feel honoured to be a part of it all.

2 comments

Comment from: Henrik Ingo [Visitor]
Henrik IngoThanks for sharing!

Suppose some community site is actually shut down in the future... In your opinion, what should we do then? Who should build a replacement site and what would it be called?
20/10/11 @ 18:32
Comment from: ajdonnison [Member] Email
ajdonnisonHi Henrik,

From my personal perspective I'd say that it isn't a matter of sites being proactively shut down, but a "death of a thousand cuts". Ignoring the community sites is easy, they don't provide any direct bottom-line benefit, they require resources that could be deployed in efforts that are more aligned to revenue generation, and they allow a platform for uncontrolled commentary. A company that is so tightly centralised as Oracle doesn't have that sort of platform in their DNA. Unlike MySQL AB, which understood that the community would become their customer base, I'm not sure Oracle sees the benefit of Community. Users, yes, but users in Oracle's thinking are paying customers.

We are already seeing signs of the lack of commitment to Community. Take a look at the forums, or MySQL Forge and tell me if you see signs of active engagement and a commitment to the community.

As to who should build a replacement and what it would be called, there are issues there. The name "MySQL" is a registered trademark, and if the site attracted a huge following you can bet the Oracle lawyers would take a dim view of any use of the trademark. However there are precedents and many products have community-run support sites that are not affiliated with the company producing the product. It could be done. But who should do it? It probably doesn't matter much. As long as the future was assured and the site was unlikely to be dropped due to pressure from parties with their own agenda, who actually provides the platform is almost irrelevant.

The main thing required for any Community site is active moderation and management. I engaged with the community to put in place moderators for the MySQL forums, rather than have all of the moderation done by the ever-shrinking internal resources (the Community team was effectively decimated long before I left, and as mentioned, the web team was not doing much better). What I couldn't do was give them the resources they needed to effectively take control of the site. I think that any new site should have community engagement and have a means by which the community can effectively manage the site. There are limits, of course, but making the site as much a community resource as possible while protecting it from misuse is a worthwhile although delicate balancing act.
20/10/11 @ 19:35

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