My Goodness is Right…

Danny Ayers flames MÃ¥rten Mickos for giving a speech at the Web 2.0 Summit on his vision for the “great database in the sky”. Ayers criticism is that MÃ¥rten is not educated enough on the semantic web and the progress that has been made in realizing that vision while promoting a relational database ideology. My interpretation: Ayers believes one thing and MÃ¥rten is running a business delivering another thing that is in conflict with what he believes in. Okay, fair enough but to flame MÃ¥rten for this is uncalled for and the tone of the post is lacking in professional courtesy or even the smallest hint of respect for what MySQL has done in the market and how the open source community and the web is a better place because of them.

I think it’s fair to say that Ayers is also lacking in appreciation of the reality that in the enterprise market MySQL is selling into when you mention things like SPARQL (using CRUD operators against RDF) or even the semantic web you are greeted by a long uncomfortable silence. This is not because the enterprise is ignorant (which I assume is what Ayers is suggesting by calling MÃ¥rten regressive) but rather the promise of these technologies has not been met in the actual implementations of things that enterprise users care about. In fact when you talk about “database in the cloud” you are more likely to get nods of approval because the implementations that have gained notoriety are based on Oracle (Salesforce.com) and others like Rightnow (MySQL) and Netsuite (Oracle). All of these initiatives are built around applications and process, not the notion of the data just being there and the relationships figured out later.

Having said all that, I’m no database expert and I genuinely admire Ayers for his expertise in this area. No doubt this semantic web notion of distributed data will gain in prominence in the years to come, but that’s no reason to attack MÃ¥rten today for doing what he believes in necessary for MySQL to grow. I think the blogosphere would be a much better place if MÃ¥rten’s request was granted:

“My humble wish would be for the experts of the semantic web not to flame me for having discussed a related topic in public, but to welcome this as something that will stimulate debate and perhaps help advance related technologies.”

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