Oracle Acquisition Could Hurt MySQL Use, Survey Says

With Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems still waiting on approval from the European Commission, a survey confirms that some members of the open-source community are skittish about the idea of Oracle controlling MySQL.

The 451 Group has released a survey that doesn't bode well for MySQL.

According to a survey of 347 users of open-source software, 82.1 percent of the respondents using open-source databases use MySQL today, while 78.7 percent expect to be using it in 2011. That number is expected to fall to 72.3 percent by 2014.

More disturbingly for Oracle, of those surveyed, 15 percent of open-source users and 14.4 percent of current MySQL users said they would be less likely to use MySQL if Sun Microsystems is acquired by Oracle.

But the news is not all bad. The majority-63.9 percent of respondents who use MySQL and 57.9 percent of respondents overall-said they would continue to use MySQL when appropriate. In addition, just over 6 percent of all respondents said they would be more likely to use MySQL if the acquisition went forward.

"The proposed acquisition of Sun and MySQL by Oracle has raised significant concerns among open-source software users about the future of MySQL," Matt Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group, said in a statement. "While most are happy to continue to use the product, a significant proportion would be less inclined toward MySQL were it owned by Oracle, and usage of MySQL is expected to decline over the next five years."

The fate of the deal between Oracle and Sun remains in limbo. On Dec. 4, Oracle formally submitted a request for an oral hearing with the European Commission to deal with the commission's objections to the deal.

Despite the doubts some have, as reflected in the survey, about the consequences of Oracle controlling MySQL, both the Oracle Applications Users Group and the Independent Oracle Users Group have come out in support of the purchase.

According to The 451 Group, 17.6 percent of all respondents and 16.8 percent of responding MySQL users thought Oracle should be allowed to have MySQL in its roster. However, roughly a third thought Oracle should hand the database to an independent foundation to continue its development.

In addition, 4.3 percent of all respondents and 3.9 percent of MySQL users said they believe Oracle should be forced to sell MySQL to another vendor if the acquisition of Sun makes it past the EC. Still, 12.3 percent of current MySQL users and 13.8 percent overall said they do not care what happens to MySQL.

"Nevertheless, it is clear that a significant proportion of open-source software users would be more comfortable with MySQL were Oracle to hand it over to an independent foundation," Aslett opined. "As we stated in our recently updated analysis of the proposed acquisition, we do not believe that Oracle would see any of the alternatives to divesting MySQL as any less of a last resort and we do not expect Oracle to offer any concessions. However, we believe that Oracle might be more inclined to open up the development of the MySQL database under its own terms in order to encourage more widespread adoption."