Saturday, 24 March 2007

Building bridges to PostgreSQL

Through Kristian Köhntopp's blog, I ran into a funny posting about "The real difference between MySQL and PostgreSQL" on Andreas Scherbaum's mostly PostgreSQL related blog. I've taken the liberty below post a cropped version of the central picture of that blog entry:

The picture shows Susanne Ebrecht and Lenz Grimmer at the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting FOSDEM 2007 in Brussels in February. Susanne hosted the PostgreSQL booth at FOSDEM, and Lenz represented MySQL. Drawing a seemingly obvious conclusion from the picture, one of Andreas's blog commenters noted that "MySQL is from Mars, PostgreSQL is from Venus."

Since last month, things have developed. Susanne has gone through a long interviewing process with MySQL AB, where I was one of the MySQLers who had the pleasure of interviewing her. Susanne has now joined MySQL, working for Georg Richter on the Connectors team.

Her joining provoked a number of knee-jerk reactions within MySQL AB. Some (but very few, I am happy to note) recent recruits got run over by their killer instincts and proclaimed some kind of crusade victory. More experienced long-time MySQLers (quite a lot, I am happy to note) instead turned their killer instincts towards these outbursts, explaining the basics of MySQL / PostgreSQL coexistence in the Open Source world.

So let me publish part of my internal message on Susanne's joining. I've censored bits and pieces that would identify whom I was addressing and what that person was saying:

Like you, I'm very happy that Susanne joined us, but her task is not to "kick out Postgres" [..]".

I envision Susanne as someone building bridges between the MySQL community and the PostgreSQL community, rather than as a "secret agent" swapping sides. I understand [... some named prominent PostgreSQL community members ...] don't see her as a black sheep, nor would that be for the benefit of either PostgreSQL or MySQL.

So to make my Community perspective clear: MySQLers shouldn't in any way think of or publicly portray Susanne's joining as "a prominent PostgreSQL person has now changed loyalties".

On the other hand, I can see several good things coming out of Susanne joining us:

  • we can learn to understand Postgres better

  • we can understand Postgres contributors better

  • we can grow our network towards Postgres and its contributors

  • we can publicly underline non-hostility between MySQL and Postgres

Susanne: Welcome to MySQL!

I hope the PostgreSQL community sees similar / reciprocal advantages of building bridges towards us at MySQL.

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