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Friday, August 12, 2011

Regarding the MySQL Conference and Expo 2012

Last week, Baron Schwartz announced the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo 2012.

Percona organized MySQL related conferences and seminars before, and from what I've heard, with considerable success and to satisfaction of its attendees, and there's one coming up in London in October 2011. But arguably, last week's announcement is quite different from the prior Percona conferences. It's different, because it seeks to replace the annual O'Reilly MySQL Conference and Expo.

Everyone that has read the announcement will have no trouble recognizing it as a replacement, since it reads:
We all know that the entire MySQL community has been waiting to see if there will be a MySQL conference next year in the traditional date and location. To the best of our knowledge, no one else was planning one, so we decided to keep the tradition alive.
If you're still in doubt:

  • The conference title contains the phrase: "MySQL Conference and Expo".

  • It's to be held in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Santa Clara, which has been the venue for the O'Reilly MySQL Conference and Expo since at least 2005.

  • It's scheduled to take place midway April, exactly like the O'Reilly conferences used to be.

  • The scope of the conference encompasses the entire "eco-system" - whatever that is: Developers and DBAs; tools and techniques; tutorials, talks and BOFs. It's about users, but also explicitly about companies and businesses.

Immediately following the announcement, bloggers from the MySQL community - all of which I respect, and consider friends of mine - started posting their opinions:(In this list, I tried to maintain the affiliation of these bloggers as appropriate and relevant as possible. Please let me know if you feel I wrongly associated someone with a particular company or organizational body)

Except for Henrik's post, all of these express a negative attitude towards Percona's announcement. The critique focuses on a few themes:

  • Giuseppe and Sheeri express similar thoughts. They recall how Baron Schwartz and Peter Zaitsev (both from Percona, and now initiating the 2012 conference) criticized the O'Reilly MySQL Conference and Expo 2008 edition for increasingly becoming an event focused at business and vendors, rather than at users (see here and here). There seems to be a hidden accusation that now, only a few years later, Baron and Peter are "guilty" of organizing a business-oriented conference themsevles.

  • Also both Sheeri and Giuseppe's posts express the concern that Oracle might not allow any of its MySQL engineers and architects to speak at the conference. This would arguably make it a less interesting conference as Oracle is a major -if not the main- contributor to both MySQL and InnoDB.

  • All bloggers argue that organizing a conference of this scale should not be the effort of a single company. In particular Kaj Arnö and Monty Widenius allude to the possibility of O'Reilly organizing the conference again, just like the way things used to be. They both explicitly include a list of the major companies contributing to MySQL which they envision should help drive such a conference.

    The main concern here is that when a single company organizes this event, it will be their event. In other words, it will not be neutral. There is serious concern for unfair competition, as the organizing company gets to decide or exert greater influence on which talks are approved, and how talks are scheduled against each other

Although I understand the critique, I do not agree with it. I hope I'm not offending any of my friends, but I think none of these seemingly sensible arguments against Percona organizing the MySQL Conference have true merit.

But before I explain, I think it's interesting to observe that nobody seems to assume it as a given that O'Reilly would be organizing another MySQL Conference and Expo. Monty comes closest to saying something about it:
The reason for my state of mind is that although there have been rumors about discontinuance of the O'Reilly arranged conference there hasn't been any announcement about this.

In fact, I have been working with O'Reilly to try to setup next year's O'Reilly MySQL conference with the intention of having it 'exactly like before', even if Oracle would not participate.
So basically, because O'Reilly didn't say they weren't going to do one, it might be possible, right :) I tend to look at it differently: It means exactlty nothing when someone, O'Reilly included, didn't announce something. The way I see it, O'Reilly has nothing to gain by announcing that they will not be organizing another MySQL Conference. Similarly, they've got nothing to lose by not announcing they aren't.

In the end, organizing conferences is one of O'Reilly's business activities. The mere fact that they've been organizing one during the previous years does not bestow any special responsibility upon them to inform potential attendees and sponsors that they are discontinuing such an activity.

It's interesting that Monty mentions he was working together with O'Reilly on it. I have no reason to doubt it, but I do suspect that whatever was in the works, it was probably not going to happen at the traditional location and at the traditional time window. Silicon Valley Conference centers are busy places, and need to be reserved well in advance - starting to work on it less than three quarters in advance can probably not be considered "well in advance" for an event of this scale.

Now, here are my arguments as to why I do not share the opinions I mentioned above:

  • If you read Peter and Baron's posts from way back in 2008 (I included the links already, but here and here they are again), you will notice that they were not in fact criticizing the O'Reilly MySQL Conference and Expo at all. They simply recognized there was a gap and felt there should also be a community-driven conference. In fact, Baron initiated such an event, the Open SQL Camp. That turned out to be such a great success that others started organizing OpenSQL Camps too.

    Now, if you read Baron's announcement for the Percona MySQL Conference and Expo, you'll notice that precisely because the tables are turned, they now feel the need to maintain a business-driven MySQL conference. They simply recognized that now there is the risk of a gap as far as a business-driven MySQL conference is concerned. In other words, there is no question of should this be a business-driven event or a community-driven event. Both kinds of events are needed, and the business one wasn't being taken care of, neither by O'Reilly, nor by Oracle.

  • The concern that Oracle might not allow its engineers to attend a conference that is organized by a competitor seems reasonable. But it assumes that they would allow it if it was a vendor-neutral conference, or at least a conference that could be perceived as such. To those that have been involved to some extent in the organization of the 2010 and 2011 editions of the MySQL Conference, it should be no secret that Oracle's participation hasn't been exactly eager. Just listen to Tim O'Reilly's own talk at the MySQL 2010 conference. If that doesn't convince you, look at the sponsor list for the 2011 edition: no Oracle. And if that still doesn't convince you - Last year it was very unclear whether Oracle was sending any delegation at all. Only at a very late stage did we receive proposals from Oracle.

    To be clear, I am not blaming Oracle for not wishing to participate in a particular conference. They have their own strategy and they are entitled to execute that however they see fit, even if that includes not sponsoring or speaking at a major MySQL conference. I'm just arguing that whether or not such a conference is organized by a vendor neutral party does not seem to be a part of Oracle's consideration. There is in my opinion absolutely no guarantee that Oracle would participate if things really would be like they used to, and O'Reilly and not Percona would be organizing another edition.

  • The final matter I'd like to discuss is the idea of all major MySQL contributing companies on working togehter to organize a conference. Although I think that's a very sympathetic idea, it doesn't seem very realistic to me. Or at least, it doesn't seem realistic that this would lead to a Santa Clara conference in April 2012. So maybe this is something all involved parties should discuss for the years to come.

My final remarks are that in the end, I am mostly happy that at least one party is willing to take the up-front risk in securing the venue. Percona has announced that, just like O'Reilly, they want to set up a board of community members to drive the program. I think other companies have legitimate concerns over vendor neutrality, but I have no reason to doubt that Baron, and by extension, Percona are doing whatever they can to safeguard that.

What is left is Percona's company name in the conference title. While Percona is likely to use that to drive their own business, this is not really different from all pre-2010 MySQL conferences, where MySQL AB and then Sun used it to drive theirs. That does not mean it excludes competitors using the conference to their advantage to pursue their business interests. There has always been room for competing vendors, and arguably that is what made the event not just *a* MySQL conference, but *the* MySQL conference.

I understand that not everybody is happy about how things are going now, and it would be great if all companies that feel they have a stake here collaborate in the future. But for now, I'm really happy there will be a 2012 edition, and I thank Percona for organizing it. I will definitely send in proposals as soon as the call for papers is open, and I hope everybody that feels they have something to talk about or present will do the same. I really believe this can be a conference exactly like it was before, with the only difference that it's organized by Percona, and not O'Reilly.

24 comments:

hingo said...

Thanks Roland, this is an excellent post. A breath of sanity compared to Wednesday's posts - which is much needed, when people are so easily confused. I was thinking someone needed to make a commentary of all those posts, and I'm very glad you did so I don't have to. It's precisely as you say:

- In 2008 Baron and Peter saw a need for a kind of conference, and they created OpenSQLCamp, a conference that lives on to this day (I'm speaking there next week). In 2011 they saw a need to do something different, and did it too. These are men who do what they speak. Those that are quoting what they said in 2008 and accusing them of contradicting that with what they are doing now, are quoting out of context and making false accusations.

- As for Monty and O'Reilly... it's really just the case that Monty is detached from reality here (which seems to happen all too often...). Anyone who has really been busy at trying to create a MySQL conference for 2012, has known for weeks that O'Reilly is not doing it, because O'Reilly has told us so. When Monty is telling us he is in conversations with O'Reilly... well you'd better get O'Reilly's side of the story before reading further.

Monty also argued that a reason MySQL AB used O'Reilly to organize the conference was to keep it neutral. But this is not true, as we know MySQL/Sun did indeed abuse their position of being in control of the conference, O'Reilly just handled logistics then.

- Finally, we have the two gentlemen Kaj and Giuseppe, who were the quickest to attack Percona, because Percona politely had given them, as important friends in the community, a heads up of their intentions... If you're wondering why I don't believe this community is even capable of organizing a conference of this size, well look no further for evidence.

Reading these two blogs I'm reminded of an old truth: *People tend to be most afraid that others will do to them, what they are doing to others.*

So for instance I've found it is often difficult to have a conversation with some lawyers, because they assume I'm lying to them! Once I was even accused that I was arguing for a position only because I was secretly paid to do so by someone else... Well guess who at the table really was doing that? The lawyer of course :-)

So I can't help but thinking that the reason Kaj and Giuseppe are so worried about a vendor being able to abuse others, is because they know it can be done, because they are the ones who have done so! (In 2009, against Percona.) And it seems nobody else but these two are really worried about that happening, rather everyone else seem to think Percona will behave very differently towards the community than MySQL AB did, because that's what civilized people do. Or if nothing else, maybe they are smart enough to at least learn from the mistakes of MySQL, as that behavior really backfired on MySQL anyway. Same is true here - if we ever saw Percona acting in that way, the community would certainly come with a counter-reaction.

So it's sad, but it has to be said: I don't think Kaj and Giuseppe are even entitled to the opinion they are presenting here.

- As for the name, it's really a trademark problem if you ask me. It used to be called "MySQL conference and expo", but for trademark reasons O'Reilly called it "O'Reilly MySQL conference and expo" and now we have "Percona Live MySQL ...". I'm sure Percona would be more than happy to use the original name if they get permission from Oracle lawyers to do so. This is another good example of the people complaining simply not knowing what they are talking about.

You said I'm the only one not criticizing Percona, but I read Marco's blog also as supportive of the conference, in his own philosophical way.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

"The final matter I'd like to discuss is the idea of all major MySQL contributing companies on working togehter to organize a company. Although I think that's a very sympathetic idea, it doesn't seem very realistic to me."

I assume you meant "organizing a conference", right?

If so, not only does it seem realistic, it is realistic. In fact it has already happened, several times. SkySQL, Percona, MySQL/Sun/Oracle have always come together to organize Open SQL Camp (which has always been heavily MySQL focused because the folks who organize it have been from the MySQL community) .

If you don't believe me, look at the sponsors lists at:
http://opensqlcamp.org/Events/Sardinia2011/
http://opensqlcamp.org/Events/Boston2010/
http://opensqlcamp.org/Events/Portland2009/

Trivia question: Who is the only person who has been a key organizer in every single OpenSQLCamp that has had a budget?

Answer: Sheeri

Also, last year Oracle sent engineers to Collaborate, which was 3,000 miles away, and Collaborate's dates were announced 4 months before the O'Reilly Conference was. Oracle had already committed to Collaborate.

So your assessment that Oracle wasn't willing to send engineers to a vendor neutral conference is not valid; they did send engineers to a vendor-neutral conference, just not the one you are thinking of.

Now they're in a lose-lose situation -- if they don't send engineers, they will be accused of not caring about the community. If they do, they are supporting a conference whose goal is not just business, but specifically "Percona's business".

datacharmer said...

@Henrik,
Just to be precise:
1) I have blogged after Percona's announcement, not before. The advance notice has nothing to do with that.
2) My post is not an attack. Sorry if you see it that way. It's a request for an explanation. And the main question is still unanswered today.
3) as for me abusing other companies in 2009, you are out of your mind. I won't disclose what is between me and my former employer. Suffice it to say that I was the one who was pushing for openness, and making partners instead of competitors. I failed in that task, but I tried.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

Henrik - Baron started OpenSQLCamp, not Peter. And Baron had a LOT of help from a co-organizer. In fact, after the first year, Baron stopped organizing Open SQL Camp, and his co-organizer from 2008 has gone on to be a key organizer in all the other Open SQL Camps that have had a budget.

Do you know who that person is?

Sheeri.

Henrik, you may have thought that what I was doing at OSCon was just talking, but perhaps that is because while Baron and Peter are "the men who do what they speak", I am "the woman who does without boasting."

I don't post every year saying "hey I'm organizing Open SQL Camp again this year, look at me!" I don't brag about Technocation's resounding success at having helped make Open Source Bridge, WhereCamp PDX, PDXPUG, Postgres Open, and more happen. Why? Because the goal is to help others, not myself.

I don't post the number of *volunteer* hours I spend recording, digitizing and editing videos from conferences that are put online for free, but if you look at http://youtube.com/tcation you'll see over 300 videos right now (313 to be exact) and I have plenty more from OSCon that I have not put up yet.

To another point -- Kaj posted his message before the Percona announcement came out. Are you saying that Percona let Kaj and Giuseppe know about the Percona Live conference before they announced it? How rude and secretive of them to pre-announce it without actually telling the folks who were trying to talk to them about organizing an April conference! (myself and another person, not Giuseppe nor Kaj)

Also, from what I know, the abuses -- which did not actually happen -- were coming not from Kaj or Giuseppe, but from higher up. Do not accuse them unless you have proof; be transparent.

Roland, see previous statement about all those companies coming together to perform a conference -- SkySQL, Oracle/Sun/MySQL, and yes even Percona have all worked together to make Open SQL Camp happen.

Max said...

Roland, I think you are missing the main point behind the complaints. As far as I've understood the main problem is the following:

* There was a large consortium (including IOUG, SkySQl, MPAB etc) trying to put together a vendor neutral MySQL conference for 2012.

* Percona was asked to join thins consortium

* Percona neither said yes nor no but stalled for a long period of time

* Percona in their announcement said that they are not aware of any other attemps to create a MySQL conference for 2012.

Disclaimer: I'm basing all on this from what I've read in blogs as I haven't been part of any discussions.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

And once more, because I have said it over and over:

I and a co-organizer* were planning a conference but wanted all the major players on board before deciding a venue. Why? Because we were worried that Percona would organize a competing conference to spite us, just as they organized a competing free conference to MySQL Camp in 2009 to spite MySQL.....even though I told them they could have as many spots as they wanted in MySQL Camp. The result was that I was forced by O'Reilly to shorten MySQL Camp.

I did not want to be screwed over by Percona again. So I was firm on trying to get Percona's support. Percona kept delaying in scheduling a call from us. We still have not heard from them; we have had to assume they are not supporting a vendor-neutral conference.

So now, I have only spent some time and effort trying to organize a conference, but no money, Percona has once again trashed my efforts. What does Percona have against me, I wonder? Not only that, but everyone is dismissing the efforts put in so far, saying "it was just talk."

It makes me wonder if I should bother putting forth all the effort I do, because apparently nobody believes I am capable of doing the things that I have done. "Once bitten, twice shy"....maybe I should not try a third time.

* not Kaj, not Giuseppe, not even Colin; so far this person has not "come out" and I am leaving it up to that person to decide whether or not to reveal who they are.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

Max - thank you for summarizing brilliantly. That's exactly it. I'd add one point:

* Percona is asking us to trust them to have a neutral conference even though they have already lied about not knowing about other attempts, and even though their stalling was the reason that conference was not announced.

Anonymous said...

Posted by Henrik Ingo:

@datacharmer (Giuseppe):

1) You are right. Kaj blogged before. Both of you however are
criticizing Percona, which is relevant for point 3.

2)Your post reads like an attack. It's a question of timing - Percona
has done something great here, and you choose to criticize them within
hours, thus mainly you come out as undermining what they are doing.
The right thing to do here would have been to accept that the world is
moving forward and at least someone is doing something positive.

But to be fair, many blogs were written that day. When I wrote my own
I started with having only read Kaj's, which too is undermining and
accusing Percona. While I was finishing you and Monty and Sheeri also
published blogs. It's easy to lump them together whether they should
or not - in fact Sheeri's title is a continuation of yours! (Otoh
Monty's is from such a different universe, it gives a great hint at
least his writings are not co-ordinated with anything else :-)

3) This is the most important point: What you want or don't want to
disclose is your call. But you can't ignore the history of 2009 that
is directly relevant to this discussion and in particular what you are
criticizing Percona of. If you choose to not talk about it, you'll at
least have to accept that this history will handicap what is decent
for you to say about Percona being a trustworthy conference organizer.

It's not like I want you to name and shame the particular executives
responsible for the sillynness, but it's important you realize that in
the public it is only known you were directly involved, not whether
you were a good guy or a bad guy. Pretending it didn't happen will not
work. Look, even in this very thread Sheeri wants to believe it really
didn't happen. That is not a sound basis for you to gang up on Percona
on.

If you had started your blog by acknowledging this historical fact,
and saying that you disagree with how Percona was treated, then you
would have in fact had a good argument for why it would be good for
conferences to be vendor neutral. Just going ahead and criticizing
Percona for something they haven't done, but MySQL has done, is bad
style and deserved to be confronted.

Your final sentences in your comment here are the first time someone
with first hand knowledge admits in public that what did happen really
did happen. If you had entered into this discussion with such an
acknowledgment, I might have even supported you. (Because you have a
point, it's just that your point is proven by MySQL actions, not
Percona actions.)

Anonymous said...

This was posted by Henrik Ingo:

A few other comments while at it.

Sheeri: Your contributions to OpenSQLCamp and elsewhere are well
known. But it's a fact that you did not have a plan for how to
continue the MySQL conference. You had a plan to create yet another
community conference, very much like OpenSQLCamp or a MySQLCamp, and
doing that would be great, but it's not a replacement for a big MySQL
conference. In fact, I think scheduling such a smaller conference
where the MySQL conference used to be would have in my opinion been
confusing and a mistake. So when Percona say that they were not aware
of any competing plans, I have to agree: I actively asked many people,
and neither was I. Your plan does not compete with Percona's plans nor
does Percona's actions in any way exclude you from arranging more
OpenSQLCamps.

Believe me, if there had been concrete plans for an IOUG or otherwise
community driven conference, I would have been quick to support it.

Max: I think you are overestimating your large consortium. For
instance, Monty doesn't mention being part of it, he is apparently
still negotiating with O'Reilly. I talked to Monty and Kurt and Colin,
none of them were part of an IOUG consortium. I talked to a member of
the IOUG MySQL council and didn't hear about any concrete plans for a
conference - I did hear that they wanted to know what Percona is doing
and had no other plans beyond that. (So now we know what Percona is
doing.)

From SkySQL I haven't heard that anyone was even working on a
conference. If this was so important to you, why didn't you commit to
supporting the O'Reilly conference then? Why didn't anyone I talked to
mention that SkySQL has a great plan and we should collaborate with
them? Why didn't you talk directly to me, a member of the community
actively interested in this? Complaining when others take action and
you appear to have done nothing much is not constructive.

datacharmer said...

@hingo,
Let me summarize:

I did not say anything about 2009 in my post, and in my previous answer I was just denying what you said about me doing evil things in 2009.

So, you accused me of being evil in 2009, and when I deny that, you take it as an acknowledgement????

I am impressed.

Please, let's go back to square one. If you accuse me of something ("abusing others"), say what it is. And possibly bring some corroborating evidence.

You also say that I should have mentioned in my blog something that I was not thinking about, in order to be credible. Sorry I could not read your mind when I was writing my stuff. Please judge my writing by what I write, not by what you think I should have written.

If you accuse me of misbehaving, you really have to be more specific and convincing. In civilized places, the burden of proof is not on the defendant.

Mark Callaghan said...

Sheeri - I don't think it is good for you, Percona or the community to write things like this. This won't lead to a productive discussion. This will make you less effective at organizing a community conference if said conference requires the participation of Percona.

> I did not want to be screwed over by Percona again
> Percona has once again trashed my efforts
> they have already lied about not knowing

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

Henrik,

Percona has not, to my knowledge, disclosed the expected size of their conference. A well, I did not disclose to you the size of the conference I had in mind. So your assumptions in those regards are just that: assumptions. And the conclusions based on those assumptions are no valid.

Baron said...

Giuseppe is one of the most sincere and dedicated members of the MySQL community. His ethical conduct is beyond question. He is willing to go to great lengths and political risk to stand up for what he believes is right. I believe that he did his utmost to correct actions that he believed were wrong or unwise in 2009.

Matt said...

Just as a lowly member of the community who attends conferences as opposed to contributes, I'm stoked there's going to be another conference in 2012 and am very much looking forward to attending as I imagine hundreds of others are too.

It's a shame to hear all you guys going on about this, it's not looking good on any of you to be honest. It just ends up looking like sour grapes, petty accusations and people lost in their own egos.

All this talk about whether it's a business conference or not.. who cares - can you honestly say any conference and expo with this level of commitment hasn't had a business focus of some sort??
This is a pretty major event to commit to, if it helps pay the bills that's fine by me, if it helps generate any profit/exposure, and incentivizes the next conference - awesome.

Anyway having said that, having been to a Percona Live event, I'm fully confident the technical content won't be devalued in any way and will continue to be second to none, and at the end of the day that's what I go for, well that and swag.. ;)

If you're upset at Percona for organising a conference without involving you.. ..tell them that your disappointed and what could have been and move on, if you really have put all that effort into it, channel it into a second conference in a venue somewhere other than Santa Clara on a date that's not in April - is that really the only venue/date in the entire annual calender that's viable?

If you really do have every other company in the community wanting to get involved and you actually can get commitment and dates set, guess who it will be who wants to participate then? After all they are a business..

hingo said...

All,

Early on in this thread I've had a long private chat with Giuseppe, as we often do. He is well aware why I think his and Kaj's blog posts are very unfair against Percona. He clearly doesn't want to talk about that background in public, and I will respect that.

I should also make clear that I have never suspected or accused Giuseppe of doing anything wrong in 2009. (Except very reluctantly executing orders given by others.) Some have interpreted what I'm saying as that, and that is not correct. The only problem is that Giuseppe's and Kaj's latest blog posts are very unfair without the context of what they've seen first hand at the 2009 conference, which is very relevant information to what they are pleading for. It was necessary to confront that and it was certainly nothing I have enjoyed.


Beyond this very isolated incident I don't have anything bad to say about either Kaj or Giuseppe. I understand also their judgement may be affected by a desire to forget what happened in 2009, which is very human and not inherently evil.

Roland Bouman said...

Friends, thank you all for commenting.

Each of your explanations of your point of view and your account of the facts deserves recognition, and the least I can do to show my appreciation to you for speaking up, is to write a personal reply to the points you raised. This going to take some time though, so please be patient.

In the mean while, I would like to urge everybody to try and keep the discussion factual, rational and civilized. It's clear that this matter goes right to the heart of some of you, and I understand this sometimes leads to responses that are, to put it mildly, too passionate to contribute to a constructive dialogue.

Still, thanks so far. I'll do my best to get my individual replies up here later this evening.

kind regards,

Roland.

Roland Bouman said...

@hingo: thanks, I'm glad you agree with my point of view.

That said - I can't condone the negative manner in which you depict Monty, Giuseppe and Kaj.

I want to emphasize again that I have no reason to doubt that Monty has talked to O'Reilly about continuing the conference, it's just that the way he worded it on his blog did not give me the impression that these talks were so concreate that they would lead to a MySQL Expo conference replacement in April.
It's not clear to me why you wrote that he's "detached from reality"; I don't think it's a nice thing to say, and I don't agree with it either.
Frankly it sounds like you have some unfinished business with him, and you're using this opportunity to slag him off for it.

While your remarks about Monty can be seen as a matter of opinion, I feel the remarks you make about Giuseppe and Kaj are quite serious and in fact libellous.
I don't know what to make of your most recent comment, since now you seem to deny to having made any accusations.
Frankly I'm quite shocked to see how lightly and inconsequential you seem to approach these matter - I get the impression you don't understand or appreciate just how much damage you inflict on people when you write things like that.

Baron already spoke up for Giuseppe in a comment I can only whole-heartedly agree to. Similarly I want to speak up for Kaj - your accusation are false, and in my opinion they both deserve an apology.

The comment thread on this blog is not meant for voicing ad-hominem attacks, and I will moderate comments more carefully in future to prevent this from happening in the future.

Roland Bouman said...

@sheeri: thanks for your replies.

"I assume you meant 'organizing a conference', right?"

Thanks! It's fixed now.

"If so, not only does it seem realistic, it is [...] it has already happened, several times."

Right, but I specified my remark: "at least, it doesn't seem realistic that this would lead to a Santa Clara conference in April 2012".
By a "Santa Clara conference in April 2012" I mean an event of the same scale (#attendees, #talks and #tutorials) as the annual MySQL Conference and Expo, in other words, a true replacement. The exact location isn't necessarily part of it, but I think it's a big deal whether or not it'd be in the Bay Area, as it's still considered the world's hotbed of web startups.

You rightly point out that you've got substantial experience organizing conferences, so I'm certainly sensitive to your opinion in this matter.
But even then it seems unlikely that a consortium-based organisation would have collected the funds to secure a location well in advance of the actual conference dates.

"... your assessment that Oracle wasn't willing to send engineers to a vendor neutral conference is not valid; they did [...], just not the one you are thinking of."

I think your remark paradoxically confirms my point that there's nothing external to Oracle that can influence directly where they send speakers to.
I'm sure they have good reasons when they do (or don't), I'm just saying one can't count on them to show up at any particular conference.

"Now they're in a lose-lose situation -- if they don't send engineers, they will be accused of not caring about the community. If they do, they are supporting a conference whose goal is not just business, but specifically "Percona's business"".

While I agree that business is ultimately Percona's reason to organize this conference, I do not think this is the same as "the goal of this conference is Percona's business".
I do see a lose-lose situation in case Oracle decides not to send any speakers - they would lose, and the conference attendees would lose.
But I can't for the world imagine how they can lose if they do send speakers. Compare it to Oracle open world. Does, say, Percona, or for example PalominiDB "lose" if they send speakers to Oracle Open World?
I think not. All companies involved (both speakers and organizer) would simply re-affirm they are part of the same eco-system, and they have equal interest in reaching users and business.
Things would of course be different in case the organizing party would methodically block or ban a particular party, but so far I have no reason to think this will happen.

"...[we]... wanted all major players on board before deciding a venue, because we were worried that Percona would organize a competing conference to spite us, just as they organized a competing free conference to MySQL Camp in 2009 to spite MySQL.....even though I told them they could have as many spots as they wanted in MySQL Camp. The result was that I was forced by O'Reilly to shorten MySQL Camp."

Is this the stance of the entire council? You seem to be taking it very personal.
You may not be aware of it yourself but it seems as if part of you was already hostile towards Percona before contacting them.
I am not saying that's the reason why the communication with them didn't work out, but it probably wouldn't have helped either.

I also like to comment on the way you mention your ongoing efforts for the MySQL community.
It's great how much time and effort you spend on that; for example the OurSQL videos are a veryimportant community resource, and you're second to none in providing them.
I do feel this is not directly relevant to the matter at hand.
It's almost as if you feel you don't get proper recognition for that, although there's no-one I know that received as many awards as you.

Roland Bouman said...

@max: thanks, good summary.

Like you I have not been part of any talks, and I am going by the facts layed out in Giuseppes blog (http://datacharmer.blogspot.com/2011/08/call-for-disclosure-on-mysql-conference.html).
I'd like to use this opportunity to thank the MySQL council for being sensitive to the interests of the MySQL community and stepping up to find a way to fill the gap left by O'Reilly as soon as they learned they weren't going to continue the conference.

I understand why the council did not communicate that negotiations were initiated with what they consider to be the main players in the MySQL ecosystem.
If they would have communicated their intention of organizing a conference before securing commitment (and of course, the funds) of the companies they feel should participate, the would've looked toothless if they failed.
So the council chose to wait, but this resulted in a delay that at least made it too late to secure the Santa Clara venue and the April timeframe.
In retrospect, it might have been better if the council would've announced there intentions earlier, but frankly I don't think it's possible for anyone to know for sure.

It has been pointed out that Percona stalled these negotiations, so it seems natural to blame them for the failed consortium effort.
However, this seems a bit too easy for me: if this is all it takes to strand the entire effort, then that does not seem like a solid basis for an annual conference.
That said, it is strange that Percona was invited, but did not for some reason respond.
In my opinion, that does put Percona's remark that they were unaware of a competing conference being planned in a suspicous light.

I do have reason to believe Percona meant something different by "competing conference".
They should probably not emain silent on that particular matter.
A disclosure of their role in the MySQL council led process would be a good thing for everyone involved, in particular for Percona as well as the MySQL council.
However, that's their call, not mine.

Roland Bouman said...

@matt: Thanks for your reply. You say a lot of wise words. And like you, I'm also thrilled to see the tradition continued :)

Roland Bouman said...

@giuseppe, @baron, @mark - thanks all for commenting. I feel I addressed the points you raised already in my other comments. Thanks again for commenting.

hingo said...

Roland, thanks for taking time to comment on what I wrote.

Regarding Monty, I agree you may have a point regarding my style. I had no intention of writing negatively about Monty as a person - only to disagree on a factual basis. When he blogged that he is currently in discussions with O'Reilly, that struck to me as a bit comedic, but I should have formulated my words differently.

Regarding Giuseppe's and Kaj's/SkySQL's blogs, I'd prefer to refer back to my previous comment rather than prolong that discussion: Any call for full disclosure should start with events they know first hand and that are directly relevant to this discussion.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

Roland....

you said:
"But even then it seems unlikely that a consortium-based organisation would have collected the funds to secure a location well in advance of the actual conference dates."

I don't understand how you can believe that one organization (Percona) can (and did!) come up with the funds to secure the location, but a consortium made up of that organization plus others would not be able to. I'd argue that the consortium could have come up with more, because there were more pockets to get money from.

You say:
"Does, say, Percona, or for example PalominoDB "lose" if they send speakers to Oracle Open World?"

No, but that's different - Oracle makes the product we service, and Oracle does not offer the services we provide. It's like we make cheese and yogurt and Oracle is the dairy farm that has the cows and provides milk/cream.

You said:
"Is this the stance of the entire council? You seem to be taking it very personal."

The council was only one of the many groups involved. But all of the major groups - Monty Program, SkySQL, Oracle, and the MySQL Council - agreed we wanted to see what Percona would do.

As for taking it personally - I know that I'm more emotionally involved than others. Part of it is that my efforts most often go unnoticed and Baron/Percona's efforts seem to be praised to the highest.

For example, while Baron "created" OpenSQLCamp, what he really did was take the MySQL Camp format and added a few more databases to the mix. I have been the one behind the scenes making sure that money comes in, goes to the right place, has the right paperwork attached, and yes, that the thank-yous go out to the donors. I've organized an entire OpenSQLCamp by myself - Baron had me helping - and I've been a big help for all the other OpenSQLCamps, including the one that Baron did. Oh, and for MySQL Camp II, Jay and I organized most of it.

Sheeri K. Cabral said...

It's also difficult because I have *tried* to work with Baron and Percona. In 2009 I offered them any slot in MySQL Camp they wanted, and they told me "we want a Percona-branded event." (this was before the event was announced, they pre-announced it to me and asked for my feeback)

And 2 months ago I offered to work with them and other groups to put on a great conference. I was led to believe they wanted to work with me but were just busy, and then they announced it.

I could say "it's just my bad luck" I guess...but I feel at this point I am trying to collaborate among the community, in the spirit of the working together to make the ecosystem better. I do not feel that same spirit coming from Percona, and thus when they are praised for really helping the community and I am basically told "you were just talk and nothing was going to come of it", it hurt too much to let it slide.

If folks would have just said "I'm glad there's a conference, and Percona's good so I know it'll be good" that's one thing. But folks are saying "Percona is the only really viable solution, nobody else can do it" they are in fact saying "Sheeri cannot do it (and Monty cannot do it, and O'Reilly cannot do it)." Because everyone who has said that is someone I talked to. There was one person who told me straight out that he thought I couldn't do it, but everyone else - Henrik included - led me to believe they liked the idea.

So, yes, I'm taking it personally. I am trying not to attack anyone; I am presenting facts, though I'm doing it emotionally. Nothing I have said is untrue, and after having Percona make their own conference instead of being a part of MySQL Camp in 2009, I was worried they would do it again. Lo and behold, I was correct.

I do this work for the community, not for the recognition, which is why I haven't been whining for 4 years about how I do a ton of work but don't get praised for it. I'm not after praise. I guess it is hard for me to see a group receiving so much praise when they have done so much to undercut and fracture the community. Do they deserve praise? Definitely! Do they deserve to be seen as the saviors of a dead conference? Absolutely NOT.