Subject: Re: Computer Survey on perceived advantages of Open Source
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 13 May 2005 22:13:59 -0400

Cliff Schmidt <cliffschmidt@gmail.com> writes:

> IMO, it is riskier to build an application against a proprietary MySQL
> feature/API/query language than to build an app against Oracle's
> SQL-92/99 implementation.  I guess what I'm saying is that I feel that
> many users think that just because a vendor open sources a product,
> you don't have to worry about lock in.  My point is that when you
> venture outside of broadly adopted industry standards you (for all
> practical purposes) are just as locked in with a single-vendor open
> source solution as with a single vendor closed-source solution.

This does not detract from your main point, but I have to mention that
as someone who has worked with various databases, I just have to
comment that 1) at least as of a couple of years ago Oracle did not
have a fully compliant SQL-92/99 implementation--PostgreSQL and DB2
are more compliant than Oracle--and 2) to get good performance from
Oracle you need to write stored procedures which are not portable to
any other database.

In fact in my experience doing serious work with any database will
lock you into that database, and switching to any other database will
be painful.  My experience writing code which worked with multiple
databases was that you needed a database translation layer at the SQL
level as well as at the database interface level.

(If I could freely pick a database to be locked into for a future
project, I would certainly pick PostgreSQL, in part because it is free
software, in part because it has some more advanced features than
Oracle and is far easier to administer.)

Ian