Hard to Ascertain Oracles Intent for MySQL

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-10-24 Print this article Print

Joe Martins, managing director of Data Mobility Group, had a different take.

"It is in the users' best interest for Oracle to agree to divest MySQL," Martins told eWEEK. "Frankly, I don't care if it happens through a sale or donation, as long as it's safely out of Oracle's clutch.  Larry Ellison's refusal to entertain the idea of divesting it should, in my opinion, raise concerns about his intent."
Martins said he simply has no idea "what Larry has in store for MySQL. And everything I have read thus far is speculation. It's best to just divest MySQL, sign the deal, end the debate and move on."

Martins said his objections to a combined Oracle and MySQL have nothing to do with product overlap or competition.

"I never really viewed the two as direct competitors. My objections are cultural. I don't believe the two organizations are a good fit, and a mismatch rarely works out well in the end.  Then again, I never thought Sun-Oracle was a good fit culturally, either," Martins said.

David Vellante of Wikibon told eWEEK that "my take is that this is a high-stakes game of a 'no- blink contest.' I always felt Oracle would not kill MySQL, but it wouldn't invest over-zealously, either. It looks like Oracle is either pretty concerned about MySQL as a potential competitor, or it wants to use MySQL as a blunt instrument against Microsoft ... or both."

Java is the real key to the Sun deal from Oracle's standpoint, Vellante said.

"Bottom line for me is Oracle needs to own Java, and in the end I don't see it risking not getting control of that platform," Vellante said. "I think the EU knows that and is digging in its heals to squeeze Oracle. My bet is eventually, Oracle has to give something to the EU because Java is so critical to Oracle, and Sun is bleeding."

Rob Stevenson of TheInfoPro told eWEEK that "I think donating MySQL would be hurtful to end users; many IT development teams use MySQL, and having Oracle behind it is reassuring as a new application transitions to production. Microsoft benefits the most if Oracle divests itself of MySQL."

Larry Rosen, a longtime IT intellectual property attorney, told eWEEK: "I don't think any of us on the outside can really understand what Oracle's motivations are, and I'm not sure how relevant they are to any issues that the EU and our government would have with respect to antitrust. They have very specific standards for analyzing trusts and monopolies. They are quite clear legal standards; we'll have to wait and see what decisions are made."

Rosen then reminded eWEEK of a little open-source history.

"Here's something interesting about all this," Rosen said. "Back when Red Hat bought [Java-based database] JBoss [in April 2006 for $350 million], it was rumored that Oracle was in on the bidding. At the time, Ellison made a remark in the press to the effect: 'So what the hell are they buying? It's just free software, a GPL [GNU General Public License] program.' Now they want MySQL, and things have changed.

"What exactly are they [Oracle] buying [in MySQL]? A lot more than free software; that's not what it's all about. It's about a trademark, customer good will, millions of users who are potentially going to be migrating [to other Oracle products]. Now it seems he has learned his lesson."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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