Global CIO: Can Oracle's Larry Ellison Keep MySQL From EU Whiners?

Want to know the real cost of the drawn-out dithering of the EU and its fawning groupies? Sun has to lay off 3,000 employees because its acquisition by Oracle is still under review.

Bob Evans, Contributor

October 20, 2009

4 Min Read

1) From a news-analysis piece by my colleague Charles Babcock: "But [Ingres Corp. Roger] Burkhardt said MySQL rarely competes head-to-head with Oracle in the existing database market. "Oracle makes money by being the corporate transaction processing system, the mission-critical production system. It's not realistic to say MySQL is a competitive database with Oracle. It's not like the commission can make that argument," he said.

". . . . Burkhardt said MySQL produced $40-$50 million in revenue a year at the time of its acquisition by Sun. That is less than one percent of Oracle's total. Unless the European Commission decides to count numbers of users as part of MySQL's value, it's difficult to construct a case that either existing or future commercial database users will be impacted competitively by the deal."

2) Also from that column six weeks ago: "In the specific case of MySQL, the code exists within a general public license so that even if Oracle decided it wanted to take over Europe by stifling MySQL, that would be a fool's errand because Oracle does not and cannot control MySQL code, says Babcock in his excellent analysis: In addition MySQL's code is issued under the GNU General Public License and exists in many hands besides Oracle's. Oracle cannot stifle distribution and use of the database, even if it chose to, despite its prospective ownership of Sun, [Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg] added. Alternative versions of MySQL exist outside of the MySQL unit of Sun . . . .

3) More from that column: "Consider also the opinion of the former CEO of MySQL, who would surely be screaming bloody murder if he felt that Oracle's acquistion of Sun and Sun's MySQL version would result in MySQL being crushed. As Cnet's Matt Asay says in his very solid analysis of the EC's shell game: Competition within and around MySQL is alive and well, regardless of Oracle. After all, as former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos has been saying for years, MySQL has never really competed with Oracle, anyway. MySQL serves (and has helped to create) a very different market: the Web database market.

When asked in April if Oracle's bid for Sun would end up hurting MySQL, Mickos responded: "MySQL works for Web-based applications. Oracle is for older, legacy applications." The vast majority of Oracle's revenue comes from enterprise IT. The vast majority of MySQL's revenue comes from Web companies like Facebook, Google, etc. MySQL and Oracle don't really compete. They live in two very different markets.

4) And a final piece from that column six weeks ago that sheds a great deal of doubt on the motives of the EU and its various cheerleaders—in this excerpt, Cnet's Asay offers this comment from Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg: "The EU does not understand open source. This is clear by using DBMS (MySQL) to extend the deadline. It also is clear that this is an attempt to use MySQL as a cover-up to a political agenda. It is protectionism at its worst. The EU is entering deep water here, water that it clearly does not adequately understand."

This whole EU sham is a contemptible bit of business, made even more so now that 3,000 people will be losing their jobs because the EU bureaucrats appear to be taking their orders from a guy who can compose awkward metaphors about foxes and hens but is staggeringly out of touch on competition and free-market ideas and ideals. And that's the real tragedy.

I hope Larry Ellison sticks to his strongly held desire to keep MySQL, and that he does not cave in to these ankle-biters. Unfortunately, Sun's hemmhoraging shifts the issue away from Larry Ellison and his principled stand on what he has legally acquired, and puts it on the increasingly tenuous status of Sun's employees, 3,000 of whom are losing their jobs because of the small-minded machinations of those who are eager to gamble with other people's livelihoods when they themselves have nothing at stake except their cheap and shallow talk.

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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