MySQL founder attempts a new software licensing model

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About open-supply licenses, developers have their fair proportion of picks (GPL, BSD, MIT, Apache, and so on.), all with their personal professionals and cons. The identical is going for industrial licenses. MySQL founder Michael “Monty” Widenius and his co-founder David Axmark came up with a special model some years in the past: the Business Source License (BSL).

This new license offers an alternative to the closed-source and open-middle licenses that many startups pick out for their software. For the first time, Widenius’s new company, MariaDB, is now using it for one of its merchandise.

In some ways, the BSL is comparable to a freemium version for software licensing (with an open-supply twist). As Widenius explained to me, the BSL lets builders set a restriction for what number of servers/CPUs/etc. Their software can run on in production (there are no usage limits for test environments, the simplest production utilization). Utilization above that incurs a licensing price.

That sounds like a quite fashionable commercial license, but the twist right here is that every one of the supply code is available at all times, and the BSL license has an expiration date. After a fixed amount of time (say 3 years), the license expires and reverts to an open-source license just like the GPL or some other license the developer chooses.

“This can create a completely new environment,” Widenius told me. “Or even in case you don’t get open source without delay, we will create many greater open-source packages within the destiny.” The ones are robust words; given his experience in the open-source world, it’s worth taking a closer look at how and why he and Axmark came up with the BSL.

This may create a very new atmosphere. Or even if you don’t get open source right away, we will create many greater open source applications within the destiny.

— Monty Widenius

Widenius has quite a bit of enjoyment with licenses, and, to a huge degree, he made his fortune because of the licensing choice he made for MySQL. “For some merchandise like MySQL, GPL is virtually the ideal license because MySQL is something corporations want to integrate into their personal merchandise,” he defined. To combine a GPL-certified product into your personal product, you’d need to open source your software, too. For Those customers, MySQL AB, the company Widenius and Axmark founded, presented a commercial license.

On-time they offered MySQL AB to Sun in 2008, 70 percent of the organization’s earnings came from licenses. “That was the purpose that MySQL had a large valuation,” Widenius said. “We had been a product corporation, and those had to pay for it in sure situations.”

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Widenius absolutely desired to use a variation of the BSL earlier, “but lower back then, the management group wasn’t as a long way-seeing as our cutting-edge one, so that they decided to go along with closed supply.” Then, some years ago, he observed that many startups had been coming to his Open Ocean mission capital firm and desired to do open source for cease-user merchandise. For The one’s organizations, the dual-license version that worked so properly for MySQL wasn’t going to paintings, due to the fact. Those users weren’t going to embed the software into their own merchandise. For this reason, they had no cause to pay for a license.

Most organizations that need to do open supply do, in that case, try to construct their Commercial enterprise on offering offerings around those open-supply gear. Widenius no longer trusts this model (even though he recognizes that it has labored for some companies). “This works for corporations that help a mission — people are giving guide for Ubuntu and make money off that,” he stated. “However the corporations that don’t have licenses, they can nearly in no way make a product.” Why? Because if you get a 10 percent margin off an excellent aid man or woman, you want 10 aid humans to pay for a developer. In his view, this version doesn’t scale.

At MariaDB, the group decided to now license the trendy model of its MaxScale database proxy under the BSL (MariaDB itself is a fork of MySQL, so it is all the time-bound to the open-source GPL license that MySQL is certified below).

As some distance as Widenius is conscious, or three other agencies have already used the license, too; however, he believes many others are sitting on the sidelines expecting a huge corporation to make the pass. The crew is likewise working on documents to provide developers a framework for moving their software to the BSL.