Oracle’s pending acquisition of Sun has been hit with a new hurdle. The European Commission(EU) won’t let Oracle proceed till it clearsout the new matter raised.
EU is concerned that Oracle’s will terminate the open source MySQL project, a move that would have a detrimental impact on competition in the database market. In light of the resilience inherent in open source software, it’s unclear if such a maneuver would even be possible.
A look at the Past
Oracle has a good history when it comes to open source. In 2005, they acquired Innobase, the company that makes the InnoDB storage engine for MySQL. InnoDB powers any serious installation of MySQL because it supports transactions and generally acts like more of a grown-up than MySQL’s default storage engine, MyISAM.
When Oracle bought Innobase, there were same kind of confusions. Does this mean the end for MySQL in enterprise applications? It turns out that all of these concerns were proved irrelevant when Oracle continued to support and develop InnoDB, telling MySQL that though we are competitors, we support Open Source. They managed to keep InnoDB’s dual-licensing structure: The product is GPL’ed, but if you want to buy a commercial license for it, you’re more than welcome to.
After Innobase, Oracle bought Sleepycat Software in 2006. For those who don’t know- Sleepycat produces BerkeleyDB, which is the de facto standard for embedded databases. BerkeleyDB was also distributed under this dual license, which made more sense for embedded software than it did for something service-oriented like InnoDB. Oracle continues to develop and support BerkeleyDB, but uses it as a starting point to up-sell customers on its TimesTen embedded database and Oracle 11g.
The EU Controversy
EC commissioner Neelie Kroes says that the absorption of leading open source database software by a company that sells competing proprietary database requires close scrutiny. Specifically, the commissioner fears that Oracle will discontinue ongoing development of MySQL, reducing the choices that are available to consumers and potentially forcing users to buy the database giant’s more costly enterprise solutions.
In an economic climate that is encouraging companies to cut costs by adopting open source software solutions, the rapid growth of MySQL has the potential to cannibalize Oracle’s lucrative database business. It’s still entirely unclear if Oracle intends to kill MySQL or capitalize on the open source trend by making MySQL a core part of its business. Oracle could also simply boost commercial MySQL support contract costs to a level that makes the open source option unappetizing for commercial users. The uncertainty surrounding this issue has compelled regulators to put a hold on the acquisition. The Associated Press reports that the EU is exploring potential remedies such as forcing the MySQL division to be sold off separately to a different buyer.
Although Oracle’s acquisition of Sun made sense, but it’s hard to believe that Oracle could truly kill off MySQL even if it really wanted to.
Widenius, the founder of MySQL, hopes that Oracle will be Open to collaborating with the community in a positive way, but he says that he is fully prepared to provide an alternate path forward for the current MySQL community and third-party vendor ecosystem if Oracle decides to play mean or take its toys and go home.
The evidence strongly suggests that the open source database will live on regardless of what Oracle decides to do.
Von Finck points out that MySQL’s licensing model gives the copyright holder a higher level of control than the rest of the community and the exclusive ability to provide certain kinds of products and services that third-party vendors cannot. This means that Oracle’s acquisition of Sun would still have significant implications for competition in the database market.
” If Oracle were to release MySQL under a different license, say the Apache license, this issue would be mitigated to an extent. But for now, Oracle has many more avenues of [MySQL-related] business and revenue than do others.”
“It’s clear that Oracle is a smart company. And the goal of any smart company is to return value to their shareholders. In this context, if MySQL was seen by Oracle to be cannibalizing their core business and revenue stream, I think there are quite a few actions they could take that would not resonate well with open source thought leaders, MySQL users, or individuals that value a competitive market. There are certainly steps that could be taken to ensure that the acquisition of the world’s most popular open-source database by the world’s largest commercial database vendor do not remove choice for users and ensure a viable and competitive database marketplace.”
Today, 70% of Webservers use MySQL as their database of choice. Reason being lightweight, speed and reliable for most online solutions. It’s not limited online systems, SMEs also found MySQL cheap and attractive alternative to hefty databases and thanks to Recession, it’s even more in demand.
MySQL is NOT limited in features even when you compare it with Leading databases like Oracle. It supports Clustering with load balancing/sharing, disaster management, Grids, table-spaces, partitioning and you name it And that’s why it has been a choice of many Enterprises.
What’s more is the world’s best search engine, Google, also uses a customized version of MySQL. (though they open sourced a part of it.)
Oracle and the Decisive leader
Larry Ellison is smart, honored business man. He favors Open Source like no one else does. Considering all that is said, he would never take a decision that could go against millions.
MySQL will live forever. cheers.