eWEEK Labs Ponders MySQL's Fate Under Oracle

What will become of the open-source MySQL database after database giant Oracle acquires Sun Microsystems? After considering the database market, Oracle's and Sun's strengths, and history, eWEEK Labs' Jeff Cogswell thinks that MySQL and its customers can expect the database to live on, although perhaps not exactly as we know it now.

With the news of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, many MySQL shops are likely more than a little worried about what this will mean for the open-source database in the long term.

While there is certainly no way to know what upper management at Oracle is planning, we can at least speculate-factoring in sound business sense as well as history.

First, consider MySQL relative to the market: Sun purchased the MySQL company for about $1 billion, a price that demonstrates just how valuable the technology is. Indeed, with more than 11 million installations, MySQL is much more than a small, run-of-the-mill open-source package.

Next, let's consider Oracle's previous acquisitions. In the past few years, Oracle has become quite an acquisition machine. For example, in early 2007, Oracle acquired Hyperion, a maker of business intelligence products. What became of those products? They were integrated into Oracle's overall product set, while remaining largely intact.

Click here to read more about the Oracle-Sun acquisition deal.

That has been the case in general with Oracle's acquisitions: The acquired companies' products did not go away but were integrated into Oracle's existing product lines. In the case of Hyperion, the name eventually went away, but the products remained.

Oracle has clearly had its eye on Sun's products-especially MySQL, which has become a serious competitor to Oracle's database products. A Sun MySQL is even more threatening in the down economy, with cash-strapped businesses increasingly looking to free and open-source software.

So, will Oracle continue providing an open-source database that has its roots in MySQL? It's very possible that the name will change, but, based on previous Oracle acquisitions, it's doubtful that MySQL will disappear.

And MySQL isn't just a freebie. There are many companies that have purchased support plans for MySQL. These businesses will become Oracle customers, and Oracle would be foolish not to meet their needs.

Jeff Cogswell can be reached at jeff.cogswell@ziffdavisenterprise.com.