Internally, I had expressed similar concerns about the plans, and I agree with much of Jeremy reasoning. However, there is something that has been miscommunicated about the online backup. From Jeremy's article, it looks like the whole online backup will be reserved for paying customers. That is not the case. The online backup is GPL. The community can use it right now. (But careful! it's alpha code, added in version 6.04 and newer)
The online backup, last time I tested it, works mostly like mysqldump, with three main differences:
- it's faster than mysqldump;
- the dump is much smaller;
- the backup and restore are done through the same client. No need for an additional tool.
What is missing in the public version are plug-in native drivers for each engine, which allow the online backup to work in non-blocking mode and a few additional plug-in features for encryption and compression. The license for such plug-ins has not been decided yet.
The business reasoning behind the decision to reserve the native modules for paying customers is that only the most demanding users have an urgent need of this feature, and I can see the value of this assessment. No doubt we will need to make sure there is additional testing for these features. Recent hirings in MySQL internal QA are a sign of a will of the company to proceed in that direction.
I believe that the online backup will be a net gain for the majority of the users.
This is the "whole" story as I know it. I may not be aware of all the details, and I will update if more comes up.