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Call for disclosure on MySQL Conference 2012
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Percona has announced Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo 2012. Kudos for their vision and entrepreneurship. I have seen comments praising their commitment to the community and their willingness to filling a void. I have to dot a few i's and cross some t's on this matter.

That was not the only game in town.

By the end of June, there were strong clues that O'Reilly was not going to organize a conference. The question of who could fill the void started to pop up. The MySQL Council started exploring the options for a community-driven conference to replace the missing one. The general plan was along the lines of "let's see who is in, and eventually run a conference without the big organizer. If nobody steps up, the IOUG can offer a venue in Las Vegas for an independent MySQL conference". The plan required general consensus among the major players, and therefore we started asking around about availability and participation. Percona did not answer our requests. They delayed the meeting, and in the meantime we continued preparing for the plan B of a conference in Vegas. Then some of us received a message from Percona, pre-announcing a conference in Santa Clara. No offer to gather a broad participation from other entities. No sign of wanting to do a neutral event, i.e. an event not tied to a single company.

Some background

That was puzzling, because I recall vividly how Baron Schwartz and Peter Zaitzev advocated strongly in favor of an independent conference, not so long ago:
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.
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.

A call to disclosure

I understand the business motivation to organize a conference with your company name in the title, while at the same time leveraging the wide MySQL community. However, if I have to judge by the organization of previous Percona Live events, I don't see any of the benefits that were advocated three years ago. I see a business conference that is inspired to the same principles that Percona was criticizing in 2008. What is it then? If it is supposed to be a community conference, let's call it "MySQL Conference" and ask for broad participation. There are plenty of people in the community who are willing to help and make the event a success, not only for the benefit of Percona, but for the global benefit of everyone in the ecosystem, including Oracle, the IOUG, and every company with a business related to MySQL. If it is not a community conference, let's state it clearly, so that people can set their expectations accordingly.

Unintended consequences

Someone may think it's a good thing to have a MySQL conference without Oracle participation but I am sure most will agree that it is not desirable. Much as I admire Percona's technical merits, if I go to the conference I want to hear from a wide range of participants. Specifically, I would like to know what's in the pipeline, and I want to hear that from the engineers in the MySQL team, i.e. from Oracle. I doubt that Oracle would send engineers and VPs to talk to a conference that is named after a competitor, and that may be true for other entities, which I (and many others) would like to hear from.

In short

Is this the conference of Baron's and Peter's earlier dreams or is it the fulfillment of their current business strategy?
Please, let the community know.

Disclaimer

The opinions in this post are my own. My employer does not censor my writings and gives me full freedom of expression, but my opinion does not necessarily match that of my company.

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