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Monty Tells EU Oracle Shouldn’t Have MySQL

MySQL founder Michael 'Monty' Widenius is trying to convince the European Union that Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems should come with a caveat: that Oracle must sell off the MySQL business.

In a statement issued on his blog Monday, Widenius said: "MySQL needs a different home than Oracle, a home where there will be no conflicts of interest concerning how, or if, MySQL should be developed further."

In the posting, which was positioned as a press release, it was pointed out that Widenius  works closely Florian Mueller, a MySQL and European Union affairs expert and advisor to Widenius new company, Monty Program Ab.

"Every day that passes without Oracle excluding MySQL from the deal is further evidence that Oracle just wants to get rid of its open source challenger and that the EU's investigation is needed to safeguard innovation and customer choice," Mueller said in the posting. "This is highly critical because the entire knowledge-based economy is built on databases."

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is adamant that he does not want to marginalize or spinoff MySQL (see Why Larry Ellison Doesn't Want To Spin Off MySQL). Analysts are siding with Oracle on this, saying the EU's actions are doing a disservice.

"We believe Oracle will make MySQL an even a better database and also offer a migration path to Oracle databases for those dealing with larger database," said Forrester Research analyst Noel Nuhanna in an email. "The delay in acquisition does not help the industry."

Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Mannes disagrees with Widenius' and Mueller's statements. In an email she gave four reasons:

  • I don’t think MySQL is a critical product in the DBMS market. If MySQL disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t fundamentally alter the market. Certainly MySQL is a very popular FOSS DBMS, but it isn’t the only one. Other popular ones include PostgreSQL, Derby, and SQLite.
  • The open source business model is no longer as disruptive as it once was. It’s a proven money-maker, and Oracle has said that it views the Sun acquisition as a way to jump into the fun. As long as Oracle is willing to maintain the MySQL FOSS license, it maintains the “innovation and customer choice” that Mueller says he’s trying to protect.
  • I don’t think Oracle wants to kill MySQL., Oracle doesn’t really view MySQL as competition to the Oracle DBMS. MySQL only competes with Oracle DBMS at the low end of the market. It primarily competes with SQL Server and other FOSS DBMS options. It’s in Oracle’s best interest to maintain the product.
  • Even if Oracle wanted to, it couldn’t kill MySQL. The source is out there. As they said in “Serenity,” “You can’t stop the signal.” 

"I’m disappointed that the EU doesn’t understand this," Manes noted. "It sounds to me like Monty has been whispering into Mueller’s ear and has convinced him that Oracle has to let go of MySQL. My question is who would buy MySQL if Sun/Oracle agreed to sell? If the buyer is Monty Program, I’d have a real problem with that. That just smacks of collusion. "

Widenius said in his blog that he is not looking to be the buyer. "One thing I want to make clear though, that Monty Program Ab certainly cannot afford to buy MySQL, whatever the value turns out to be," he wrote. "It is just too funny every time I see the media speculating on that."

He also argues he knows of companies that are interested in MySQL. "I prefer not to name them to keep their options open for the future and I also have to keep MySQL Board information private," he wrote.

As for what it's worth? "It's of course up to the market to put up a fair price of the MySQL asset," he said. "It's worth what someone is willing to pay for it."

So what's your take? Should the EU force Oracle to sell off MySQL or will it in fact become a useful platform in offering the company an alternative to Microsoft's SQL Server and other FOSS database offerings? Please feel free to comment below and/or drop me a line at [email protected].


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 20, 2009