Disclosure: Truth About MySQL 2012 Conference Planning

I love Percona Live.  I think it is a great meeting of the minds.  However, I do not think it is a good replacement for the big April MySQL conference.  In fact, neither does Baron Schwartz:

"The conference is organized and owned by MySQL, not the users. It isn’t a community event. It isn’t about you and me first and foremost. It’s about a company trying to successfully build a business, and other companies paying to be sponsors and show their products in the expo hall."
Baron Schwartz, April 23, 2008.

Switch "MySQL" for "Percona", and that is exactly what Baron said in today's announcement:

"Emphasis on business. We need a place where vendors, both open-source and closed-source, can showcase their products and services. This is the hand that feeds all of us. It’s good for Percona’s business, and it’s good for everyone else’s too."

...except in 2008, Baron was calling for a community conference because what was good for business was not good for the community.  

Let me pull out that last sentence from the quote.  Read it to yourself, and tell me if you feel warm fuzzies replacing "Percona" with "Oracle" or "MySQL":

"It’s good for _______’s business, and it’s good for everyone else’s too."

Here is a question for you:  Do you think Oracle will send lots of engineers to talk about current and future plans for MySQL to a conference that is open about saying "It is good for our business?"  

It does not matter if it is Percona, Blue Gecko, or PalominoDB, if Oracle has any business sense (and they make quite a bit of money, so signs are that they have business sense) they will not send engineers to a competitor's company-branded conference.

What does Percona's founder, Peter Zaitsev, have to say about the conference?  He's not really happy about it either:

"I would like to see the conference which is focused on the product users interests rather than business interests of any particular company (or personal interests of small group of people), I would like it to be affordable so more people can attend and I’d like to see it open so everyone is invited to contribute and process is as open as possible. "
Peter Zaitzev, April 23, 2008

Peter, I would like to see that too.  In fact, a small group of folks, including Giuseppe and myself, tried to make that happen, and we had SkySQL, MariaDB, Oracle and IOUG all supporting us. 

Giuseppe called for disclosure about the conference, so I will disclose this:  Baron was not truthful when he said "To the best of our knowledge, no one else was planning one".

Giuseppe asked for full disclosure, so here is a copy and paste of a Skype conversation I had with Percona's Tom Basil on June 29th, 2011:



Sheeri K. Cabral 6/29/11 12:10 PM 

I think we should develop some ideas in case O'Reilly doesn't end up having a MySQL conference....last year the announcement was late, and it was in May, and I'm starting to think they might not be doing a conference this year, since we haven't heard anything yet.

6/29/11 12:10 PM

if that's the case, I'd like to have a conference anyway, and I'd like to explore options with you, because we need a community-run conference (not Collaborate, but maybe a co-located summit).  And obviously you've had success with Percona Live, but a multi-day conference is really different.

6/29/11 12:11 PM

(FWIW I told Colin Charles in May that I was willing to help co-chair the conference, so I'm still willing to give my support in that area).

Tom Basil 6/29/11 12:14 PM 

Sheeri, can't talk now

Sheeri K. Cabral 6/29/11 12:14 PM 

*nod*  can we schedule a conf call maybe?

Tom Basil 6/29/11 12:14 PM 

Headed out in just few min

6/29/11 12:14 PM

yes, next week

6/29/11 12:14 PM

We tried to schedule conference calls but for almost 6 weeks we were pushed back.  
I had indeed offered to chair or co-chair a conference with Colin Charles, but I simply cannot lend a lot of logistical support to a Percona-branded conference.  I volunteer a lot, but it is for the benefit of the MySQL Community, not for the benefit of a company I do not work for.  
I hope that my openness and candor does not blacklist me from Percona events; I am a popular and sought-after speaker at MySQL events and it will be a loss to the community if that happens.
Percona should keep its Percona Live series.  However, the world's most popular open source database deserves and needs exactly what Peter, Percona's founder, said just a few years ago: "the conference which is focused on the product users interests rather than business interests of any particular company".
I believe Percona Live Santa Clara will be a successful event, and I will try to be a part of it.  I hope it will be as successful for the community as it will be for Percona's business.



Regards for this terrific post, I'm glad I discovered this website. Thanks for sharing it. 

Fri, 09/28/2012 - 02:11

I called the skype conversation as I saw it. Sorry if that was too mean or personal. I don't understand why everyone is so upset over Percona creating a business oriented conference. The MySQL conference was always business oriented. The company that spent the most money got the most exposure. Companies setup booths to sell their products and services. Other companies came to the conference to get help for their businesses from other businesses. This whole idea of a mysql community deciding the future of mysql is a joke. The community is competing businesses. They will work together when it benefits their own businesses. MySQL historically was developed by a business to make money for that business. Now there are multiple companies doing the same thing. I don't see what the problem is.

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 15:44

This whole thing feels blown out of proportion.I have yet to see a list of neutral contenders beside O'Reilly in all of these blogs...If no neutral contender will step up, then who does it? Isn't that the case now? (allegedly).That's the bottom line:Conference || No ConferenceCommunity || CompetitionIf Percona didn't have their name on it, would it make such a difference? If competitors had the balls they should show up and rock the house regardless. Why not have the key players who are capable/wanting to run the conference set up a mutual rotation?Has anyone approached Facebook to see if they'd be willing to be the neutral (wishful thinking?)

Justin Rovang
Wed, 08/10/2011 - 15:35

Eric, it wasn't just me. It was a small team of folks, Giuseppe being one of them. I've named Giuseppe because he already mentioned it in his blog posts, but there were more folks. We had plenty of promised major sponsors, including SkySQL, MariaDB, Oracle and IOUG. We wanted Percona to be a part of it, and had the courtesy to wait to talk to them about it. They did not have the same courtesy.

If Tom wanted to blow *us* off he could have easily said "Percona is not interested in pursuing a team-driven community event" instead of stringing us along.

Percona wants a business-focused conference, not a community-focused conference, and that concerns me. It's a valid concern.

Sheeri Cabral
Wed, 08/10/2011 - 13:29

Hi Sheeri!Good post!I had a similar experience with Percona and planning a new MySQL conference;-Both of us was concernced that there may not be a new O'Reilly MySQL conference and we should all work together to either get O'Reilly to do it or do a community conference together.- I am still talking with O'Reilly about doing a MySQL conference, which Percona did know about.- I was informed yesterday about the Percona MySQL conference and when I called them up and asked what this is all about, they told me that things are already set in stone.Doing a 'Percona MySQL conference' shows that Percona assumes that the rules they would like others to play with, doesn't apply to them.I really like Percona and I love to work with Peter, but this is a new low from them :(Sheeri, when can we start planning a true MySQL community and user conference (assuming O'Reilly is not going to do it, which is still not decided)?PS: Sorry for the formatting, but I could not get the preview feature on your blog to work...

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 13:15

How dare someone organize something that has to do with mysql without your involvement or approval! Did you ever consider that Tom blew you off because you are difficult to work with and he doesn't need your help or approval to hold a conference?

You are not the mysql community. Percona is perfectly capable of organizing an event without your help. Personally I find the Percona events much more technically oriented than the mysql conference. I'm happy they have stepped up to replace the sales circus that the mysql conference has become.

In case you weren't at the mysql conference last year I will update you on how it went. The biggest sponsor was EnterpriseDB. Facebook, EnterpriseDB, Percona, and MariaDB were responsible for the vast majority of the technical content. Oracle was mostly absent except for a session on metadata locking 5.5 where half the session was the presenter telling me and a few other people with internals knowledge that our legitimate bugs weren't actually bugs and that we don't know what we're talking about.

Who cares if a book company doesn't put on a conference about databases?

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 12:50


I care, actually. I think Percona is a great company and the Percona Live series is excellent, and I would hate to see them categorized as "evil, all they care about is $$".

Percona has a big following that they've earned and I'd hate to see them lose that. I also hate to see the community lose out because Percona was unwilling to talk to some folks, myself included, about a team effort with multiple companies and organizations backing a conference.

Sheeri Cabral
Wed, 08/10/2011 - 11:10

Who cares? Let them burn through their time and cash. I doubt it would do great in numbers of attendees and sponsors.

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 11:06


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