When I wrote about Reason #3: No Vendor Lock-in, I leaned on the liberal PostgreSQL License and the fact that there are many vendors that can Support PostgreSQL in production. Another aspect that deserves its own mention is the fact that PostgreSQL can not be bought.
Let me explain the significance of that statement.
MySQL used to be the single most popular database among developers. It was so pervasive that it defined the mighty LAMP stack, which in turn defined the Internet for over a decade. And yet developers are not very enthusiastic about it any more (see the Most Loved Databases in Stackoverflow’s Developer Survey 2019). As I talk to various people who are considering a move to PostgreSQL, here is a question that I get asked often – “Will PostgreSQL have the same fate as MySQL?”.
What are they talking about?
MySQL AB was founded in Sweden in 1995, with its flagship product being the MySQL database. They went open source with MySQL under GPL in 2000 , resulting in a temporary drop in revenues but triggering the development of a thriving community. In 2008, however, MySQL AB got acquired by Sun Microsystems , which in turn was acquired in 2010 by the Big Red – Oracle .
Needless to say, Oracle has its own commercial interests, and they are not exactly aligned with promoting open source MySQL. Larry Ellison said about MySQL many years ago, “It’s a tiny company. I think the revenues from MySQL are between $30 million and $40 million. Oracle’s revenue next year is $15 billion.”  Michael Widenius and David Axmark, two of MySQL co-founders, left the community shortly after the Sun acquisition . Marten Mickos, CEO and the driving force behind MySQL’s expansion and revenue growth, also left in 2009 . MySQL isn’t as ‘open’ as it once was.
Needless to say, developers are put off, and though MySQL development continues, they are now shying away from adopting MySQL for new projects.
Moving on to more pleasant topics … 🙂
PostgreSQL’s license is designed to be very open (it is far more liberal than GPL – further explained in: Reason #2: The License and What does the license mean for my business?) and to attract a competitive marketplace. It assigns copyrights to PGDG – PostgreSQL Global Development Group, a global community that cuts across countries, enterprises, people, and cultures. It isn’t really a legal entity, more of an online community – making it pretty much impossible for anyone to buy.
All functions in the community are defined by the rules and guidelines that this multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-company community defines. Something as important as the core team (currently comprised of five people) does not have more than two members from the same company. Community conferences don’t allow more than 50% representation from the same company on the talk selection committees.
To add on top of all that, commit rights to the source repository are assigned purely on merit and completely agnostic to company affiliation. This has resulted in core committers from all sorts of organizational backgrounds, and some even without any organizational background.
So yeah, rest easy if you plan on using PostgreSQL. The PGDG isn’t going anywhere. No evil enterprise from the dark side can take over the project. The liberal license isn’t going anywhere. What will always remain is a vibrant community that thrives on diversity and that continues to progress the project forward at a pace that truly boggles the mind.