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Volume 11, Number 1 -- January 11, 2011

Oracle Drops MySQL Support for IBM i

Published: January 11, 2011

by Alex Woodie

Citing "very low demand," MySQL announced last month that it will no longer provide the MySQL database running on the IBM i operating system. The company, which is owned by IBM archrival Oracle, says it will continue to provide source code and limited product support to customers who want to work with the database on IBM i. Representatives with IBM Rochester say they are looking into ways to continue supporting the open source database, possibly with Zend Technology.

On December 7, MySQL announced the end of life (EOL) of MySQL binaries it developed for several operating systems, including i5/OS V5R4, IBM i version 6.1, AIX version 5.3, Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 3, SuSE Enterprise Linux version 9, OpenSuSE Linux version 9, and the generic X86 Linux distribution developed with Intel's ICC compiler. New support was added for the FreeBSD and Fedora operating systems.

Last month's announcement covers all versions of the MySQL database, including the binaries for the free community edition and the for-fee enterprise and commercial editions. It also includes the IBMDB2I product that allowed DB2/400 to function as a storage engine for MySQL, which MySQL owned. IBM i users are always free to compile the MySQL code themselves.

While finished binaries of older releases of the database for i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1 remain available for download, MySQL will no longer release fixes or enhancements in for the IBM i operating system in finished binary form. Those product lines have reached the end of the road at MySQL. The announcement also marks the end of sales and most forms of technical support for the enterprise and commercial editions of MySQL on IBM i. Customers can continue to get "limited" support from the vendor for running the database on these platforms, and can also get access to source code, if needed, according to the announcement, which can be viewed at www.mysql.com/support/eol-notice.html.

IBM tried to get Oracle to reconsider its decision to drop support for IBM i, but was unsuccessful, according to Allison Butterill, the application development offerings manager for Power. "We really wanted Oracle to continue to provide those binaries for our IBM i customers, and we know there were many customers that downloaded it from their website," she tells IT Jungle. "And they decided in the fall that they would withdraw those binaries. They cited business reasons; that the business justification wasn't there."

Support Questions

While MySQL won't be supporting the database on IBM i anymore, it isn't the end of the world for MySQL-on-IBM-i enthusiasts, and there are several options for IBM i customers to not only obtain the database, but to support it on the IBM i server as well.

The first support option is to go to the developer community and check forums on the Web with support questions, which is the standard way that open source software is supported, says Butterill, adding that only 5 to 10 percent of the thousands of IBM i shops that downloaded MySQL for IBM i bought support contracts from MySQL. "A lot of customers did not have a formal support agreement with MySQL, so the support is the same as they were using before," she says.

In the future, technical support may be available from IBM, Zend, or a third party. Butterill notes that Zend is already distributing installable code for MySQL for IBM i--including binaries for IBM i 7.1 for both MySQL and the IBMDB2I storage engine--and that IBM and Zend are investigating options for expanding the agreement to include formal technical support as well.

There has been no formal announcement about supporting MySQL through Zend, but there are ongoing discussions about it, says Ian Jarman, manager of Power Systems software. "We're certainly looking at that and considering it," Jarman says.

A Changing Relationship

The end of IBM i support by MySQL marks an abrupt downturn in the 3.5-year-old relationship between IBM Rochester and MySQL. Things looked promising in 2007, when IBM and the independent Swedish company entered into a formal partnership and announced plans to get MySQL running on the platform with the launch of i5/OS V6R1 in early 2008.

In late 2008, after MySQL had been bought by Sun for $1 billion, the two vendors continued to work together, and released the first private beta of the DB2/400 storage engine, which was released as a public beta called IBMDB2I in March 2009. IBMDB2I was added as a fully supported feature in MySQL version 5.1.35, which became available in May 2009. According to MySQL's website, IBMDB2I was removed with MySQL 5.1.54, which was released in November 2010.

Things really started changing when Oracle obtained MySQL with its acquisition of Sun. "I think it would be fair to say that the conditions of the relationship changed quite dramatically over the years," Jarman says. "If you think about it, when we originally developed this contract and support arrangement with MySQL, it was an independent company. Then it was taken over by Sun. Then it was taken over by Oracle. So, yeah, things have changed quite dramatically over the period. So it's not really a surprise given that MySQL was taken over by two different companies that they're business objectives have changed some years later."

By the way, with the elimination of support for IBM i 6.1 and AIX 5.3, MySQL now is officially not supported on any IBM Power servers, including newer Power7-based Power Systems servers, older Power6-based System i or System p servers, or even older still Power5-based iSeries or pSeries machines. MySQL has not been adapted and is not supported on newer releases of the operating systems, including IBM i 7.1 and AIX 7.1. No Power-based Linux distributions are officially supported.

At the top of every Web page on the MySQL website is a link that says "Recommended servers for MySQL." The link leads to Oracle's webpage for Sun servers. "It doesn't really surprise me that Oracle is beginning to say they will support fewer and fewer platforms as they try to shore up their Solaris business," Jarman says.


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