Reflections on MySQL conference - Part II: People and community
Friendly and without drama
That's a good way to summarize the MySQL conference 2011. Nobody acquired nobody. There were no volcanoes keeping men away from their wives, dads away from soon to be born babies. I had packed extra underwear just in case, but it wasn't needed.
A year ago there were many people at the conference who were still employed by an employer they wanted to leave as soon as possible, yet couldn't talk openly about it. There were end user customers in similar situations. All of this resulted in a lot of secret meetings and discussions and planning. Even when people were supposedly relaxing together, there would be those meaningful looks between those who knew something vs those who knew something else. Maybe my problem was that I just knew too much about all of this. This year, most people had found new employers, or even started their own companies. We could all be ourselves and talk openly. It was very relaxing.
And by the way, just so we don't forget: MySQL AB always was good at drama, it isn't just the Oracle takeover that caused some. Or have you forgotten the year when MySQL executives had the brilliant idea of blocking all Percona talks from the conference? Even if it has been a drama of its own, I'm kind of very glad that Oracle decided to simply walk away and has let us run the conference as an O'Reilly + community event for the past two years. I very much hope it stays that way, and we can enjoy many more years without drama, and with a friendly atmosphere.
It's an open source database / Wearing Postgre S Q L tshirt today / Hear they have friendly community ... #mysqlconf #postgresql #haiku
O'Reilly had widened the scope of the conference, so there were PostgreSQL and NoSQL talks, and EnterpriseDB was a sponsor and gave a keynote. It was nice to have them there and make this a true open source database conference. We were all very friendly with each other.
Where did everyone go?
During the past 2 years, many have found new employers. Some like me and the core Drizzle team even twice!
A great thing for end users is the prospering consulting and support industry. I think Percona has doubled in size in the past 2 years? That's great of a company growing without VC investment! I have many friends who started new companies, or went to other existing service companies.
But another trend was even more important and clear: End user organizations. I spotted at least 7 guys who now work for Facebook and contribute great stuff to the MySQL ecosystem - and btw, only 2 of them are ast MySQL AB collagues. I once found myself sitting amongst 3 guys from a company I had never heard of before, Marin Software. One of them, Lachlan Mulcahy is the creator of Xtrabackup Manager. I hadn't noticed before that Eric Herman had joined Kristian Köhntopp at Booking.com. And unless you've noticed, I'm myself part of this trend, having found a home at Nokia.
I believe this shift in balance to have more of the community activists working for end user organizations is a good thing. I've certainly enjoyed being able to operate from a more neutral position, I can say things and people do not immediately assume I'm influenced by being a competitor to everyone else. And when you think of it, from Slashdot to Google, Facebook, DeNA, Marin Software... it is really the end users who often keep making the most important technical leaps too. This is as it should be in an open source world.
Inevitably, some of our former MySQL collagues also move around in the wider open source landscape. A funny detail was to note that almost the entire MySQL training team has gone to Cloudera and are now teaching Hadoop! Robin Schumacher and Karen Padir have found each other at EnterpriseDB.
Immediately on Sunday I was let in on the rumor that Rackspace was ending its sponsorship of Drizzle. My first reaction was that this was this year's version of bad news to start the conference. But as bad news come, this one was pretty good. The Drizzle core team didn't have a hard time finding new jobs, some already had signed with new employers, some had multiple offers to choose from. Most (if not all?) of them had negotiated deals where they could continue to spend part of their work time with Drizzle. So in the end, this seems to only make the Drizzle project stronger, as there is now a broader variety of companies that employ Drizzle developers.
In fact Drizzle seems to now have reached its goal of combining a MySQL-like database with a PostgreSQL like solid, diverse and welcoming community. How cool is that!
If the main MySQL conference was friendly, the Drizzle Developer day was friendlier still! Somehow Brian and the other guys have managed to really create the Drizzle community as a über-positive, no-drama space, where everyone can just come together in the same community.
Now that Drizzle is GA, there was good attention from all the main service vendors in this space, and yes, this includes Tomas Ulin and Lars Thalmann from Oracle. We had great un-conference discussions for instance on all the different ways of solving the group commit bug MySQL has had for 6 years. (Drizzle solves it elegantly by putting the binary log inside InnoDB itself, which makes the problem simply go away for InnoDB transactions.) In addition to Oracle we had 4 x SkySQL, 3 x Percona, 1 x BlueGecko and Ronald Bradford. All of these (except Oracle then) already announced Drizzle support too! (Sorry if I missed someone, ok so Brian has his own consulting/service business too, but that's kind of too obvious to be on this list.)
oops, of course patrick galbraith @bluegecko was also at @drizzledb day. Took him for granted :) so 4 vendors in total. #mysqlconf
The Drizzle day was a very positive experience for me. Originally I had decided I would set apart some time to play with their newest release and evaluate it thoroughly with sysbench and such. But I have to admit I already feel a gravitational pull to the nice community, which stands apart from the fractured landscape of the other vendor-led MySQL forks. Always when I evaluate open source software, I put equal emphasis on the technical features as well as the community behind the product. Drizzle has done very well for the community part!