I'm undertaking a research project. I want to understand the effects that MySQL and other open-source databases are having and might have in the future on the mainstream database market--SQL Server in particular. I've been cynical about the idea that MySQL can aggressively compete with high-end, enterprise-class databases. But recently, I realized that I was someone that cynics made fun of a few years ago when I proclaimed that SQL Server could compete with high-end, enterprise-class databases. MySQL had serious limitations in the early years, and still does. However, some major independent software vendors (ISVs) have invested heavily in MySQL, and MySQL has made more progress than SQL Server in the shared-nothing, scale-out arena.

Lately, more and more customers are asking whether MySQL can bring any value to their organizations. Unfortunately, finding customers who are working with both SQL Server and MySQL can be difficult. Many organizations use both Oracle and SQL Server or IBM DB2 and SQL Server, and Unix and Microsoft customers mix more freely in the enterprise these days. But Microsoft customers and open-source customers don't blend as often in today's corporate environment. In addition, most SQL Server experts (myself included) don't know much about MySQL, and I suspect most MySQL experts don't know much about SQL Server.

So, I need your help. Do you use SQL Server and MySQL? Do you lean more toward either the Microsoft or the open-source camp? I need a few brave souls who use both SQL Server and MySQL and who are reasonably knowledgeable about both products to engage in email, and perhaps phone, conversations with me. Many of my customers have been trying to learn about MySQL, and probably many of you would like to know more about the open-source database platform. So, drop me a line--I'd love to hear from you. Whatever I learn through this research and reader-discussion process, I'll share with you in future columns so that you can make better decisions about whether MySQL or another open-source system has any place in your organization.