Staff Writer, CNET News.com
BOSTON—Open-source software company MySQL has revamped its pricing and licensing practices in an effort to make its database more attractive to corporate customers.
On Tuesday, the company announced at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here the MySQL Network, a yearly subscription service that gives customers the right to use the MySQL software and to access the company's support services.
The service, targeted at big companies, offers software users an alternative to paying an up-front fee.
Customers that opt for the annuity service can use the MySQL software under the General Public License (GPL), a widely used open-source license. Until now, MySQL used a commercial license for its corporate customers and the GPL for people who downloaded the company's software for free and used it without MySQL's support services.
Going with the GPL for more of its customers is intended to simplify the licensing for corporations, said Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL.
"It was an unnecessary discussion. CIOs told us they don't want to hear about licensing," Mickos said. "It creates an unnecessary debate over what is a derivative work."
The GPL, which is used for the Linux operating system, places some restrictions on how different software can be assembled and distributed.
MySQL will continue to use the commercial license for those customers that embed the company's database in other products, such as other software providers.
Through the MySQL Network program, customers get certified versions of the MySQL database, support services, legal indemnification and access to a "knowledge base" of technical information. MySQL also is introducing alert services that provide updated information on bugs and new features as well as help on installation.
Combining the support services with indemnification into a subscription service will appeal to corporate customers looking to lower their risk in using open-source software, Mickos said.
Customers purchase the MySQL Network services based on the amount of servers and the number of years of the contract. The company also will offer tiered services with varying levels of support.
The tiered support structure will let customers get round-the-clock support services starting at $4,995 per year. Until now, customers needed to have a contract valued at about $50,000 to get the highest support service, Mickos said. The entry-level pricing is $595 per year.
Separately, MySQL announced that a number of independent software vendors have certified their software to run on the MySQL database. New partners include analytics software company Business Objects, Intel, Novell, Veritas Software and management software company Embarcadero Technologies.