Because Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems affects so many different markets, reaction to the completion of the $7.4 billion deal is still coming in from various corners of the IT world.
With all of its newly acquired Sun intellectual property and R&D in hand, Oracle is now moving headlong into the server, storage, processor, networking and, yes, even the switch business. Sun has been offering its own networking switch for several years, though it remains to be seen whether Oracle will continue in its development.
More than any other sector, however, the database world has had the most hotly debated reaction.
Some of the most indignant remarks came from IBM, in response to remarks made by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison about the DB2 database during the media event Jan. 27.
Previously, most of the reaction involved the care and feeding of the open-source MySQL database, which many people believe competes directly against Oracle’s highly proprietary DBs. It is a direct conflict of interest, critics claim, for the world’s largest database company to own and serve as steward of a popular, free-of-charge, open-source database like MySQL.
However, a number of other industry people-including former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos-strongly believe that Oracle is within its full right to acquire all of Sun, including MySQL. Mickos and others believe that the international community and the installed base will keep the technology independent.
Larry Alston, vice president of marketing and product management at EnterpriseDB, is one of those on Mickos’ side of the argument. Alston told eWEEK that he expects Oracle to continue to invest in MySQL.
“They may formalize the licensing and pricing, but we actually think Oracle might invest in MySQL more than Sun did,” Alston said. “Ultimately, Oracle could be a better home for MySQL. That being said, once MySQL is integrated into Oracle, it will be difficult for anyone to consider MySQL a truly independent, community-driven open-source project.”
How will this affect EnterpriseDB in particular?
“Oracle’s official ownership of MySQL simply further supports the fact that PostgreSQL is the only real choice for organizations looking to deploy an open-source database that is backed by a truly independent community,” Alston said.
“For the last several months we’ve seen a steady stream of MySQL users looking to us for migration tools to Postgres, and we expect that trend to continue and even accelerate now that the EU has made its decision. PostgreSQL will continue to thrive because of its growing community and rock-solid development efforts. EnterpriseDB will float because of that.”
Can MySQL Continue to Innovate?
Can MySQL continue to innovate under the “rule” of Oracle, or could Oracle let it atrophy?
“Yes, we believe MySQL will live on under the rule of Oracle. Oracle will allow innovation of MySQL, but it might be at a different pace due to Oracle’s public-company, corporate status,” Alston said.
In its Jan. 21 decision to allow Oracle-Sun to do business in the 27-member European Union, European Commission regulators ruled that many database users consider PostgreSQL to be a “credible alternative” to MySQL, and that MySQL is not the only highly regarded open-source database.
“It appears as though the European Commission never fully understood the competitive issues surrounding MySQL,” Alston said. “MySQL was built by developers for quick and dirty applications with simple scripting languages, and it’s not ready for true enterprise IT developers.
“While it’s true that PostgreSQL can handle any of the lightweight processing that MySQL was designed for, in reality PostgreSQL is a full-featured open-source database built for high-transaction, highly scalable enterprise applications. Essentially, PostgreSQL and MySQL were designed for two different workloads.”
Roger Burkhardt, CEO of the much older, more established Ingres database, believes that Oracle will shape MySQL to fit its business needs-ahead of any community wishes.
“Oracle is going to reshape the MySQL business and channel it in ways that protect its proprietary software business and support its move into hardware,” Burkhardt told eWEEK. “Evidence of this is already there: MySQL has removed the migration assets from their Website that would support a move from Oracle to MySQL.
“It was removed in recent weeks to reduce choice for their customers before the deal was approved or closed. Oracle clearly wants to take no risk in cannibalizing their Oracle DBMS business, even though MySQL is a much less capable product.”
Burkhardt also said that he understands that MySQL has already stopped reselling and promoting other products based on MySQL that are competitive with Oracle’s database offerings.
“The good news is there is a proven alternative to Oracle’s database. Ingres has the technology, migration tools and global partners to support smooth migrations from proprietary databases to the benefits of open source,” he said.
Florian Mueller, a longtime open-source activist and colleague of MySQL creator Michael “Monty” Widenius, told eWEEK that the EC’s decision was “really one of politics.”
“Oracle still needs clearance from the Chinese and Russian antitrust authorities, and it’s a matter of respect not to consider this process finished until those major jurisdictions have also taken and announced their decisions,” Mueller told eWEEK.
“The EC’s reasoning has to be reviewed when all the details of the decision are known, but it seems to be a decision based on wishful thinking for the future more so than anything else. PostgreSQL has been around for decades without having had its mainstream breakthrough, so the EC can’t seriously claim that PostgreSQL could replace MySQL as a competitive force,” Mueller said.
“Forks [derived works based on an existing open-source project] are a legal possibility, but there’s no reason to assume that any MySQL fork, or even a number of such forks collectively, could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify the position of former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos on the Oracle acquisition of Sun.