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MySQL Community Response to Oracle-Sun Deal Mixed

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The question “Oracle good, or Oracle bad, for MySQL?” was generally met with a smile first, then a measured, thoughtful response on the final day of the MySQL Conference in California.

All a reporter had to do on the final day of the MySQL 2009 Conference this week was walk up to someone wearing a conference badge, request a minute of their time, and ask a simple question: “Oracle good, or Oracle bad for MySQL? The question was generally met with a smile first, then a measured, thoughtful response. Answers were interesting, to say the least, ranging from an absolute “no way” to equally absolute “Yes, it will be great for MySQL,” with lots of opinions thrown into the mix.

For those who’ve been away from the news this week, Oracle surprised many by picking up where IBM left off in announcing, 20 April, that it will acquire Sun Microsystems for about $7.4 billion (£3.83. billion or $9.50 per share). IBM had offered $9.40 per share (about $6.5 billion) and saw the offer rejected by Sun on 4 April.

“I heard that one guy here sold his Sun stock right away,” one MySQL admin told eWeek during the conference. “Of course, he bought it at $4, and sold it at twice that! So I’m not sure exactly if he was that mad about the deal or just making a profit. Maybe both.”

Anders Karlsson, a principal sales engineer with Sun based in Sweden who regularly blogs on database issues, told eWeek that he thought the move to Oracle is going to be “great” for MySQL and the open source community in general.

“I used to work at Oracle, so I know how they think,” Karlsson said. “They’re a lot more involved with open source than many people believe. “Taking over the leadership of MySQL will be a great move for them; now they will be able to offer the Mercedes of databases, Oracle DB, and have MySQL for smaller markets. It gives them a lot more options.”

MySQL will still make Oracle money

Even though it will sell for a lot less than the enterprise database, Karlsson said, Oracle will still make money on MySQL and keep control of its former competitor. “Let’s say Oracle tries to sell a $4 million database system to a company, and they can’t afford that much. So the customer ends up buying a MySQL setup for $100,000. Larry [Ellison] will still be happy, because it’s 100 grand for him and $4 million that IBM or Sybase didn’t get,” Karlsson said.

Several developers offered a “wait-and-see” opinion about Oracle’s new involvement. “I’m sorta scared by what could happen, but it’s so early yet that nobody really knows what they’re going to do,” another DB admin said. “The deal only happened three days ago. They might not even close it; IBM had trouble, too, don’t forget,” another fellow said.

One channel sales rep said he thought Oracle was going to be bad for MySQL. “Owning MySQL doesn’t really force Oracle to invest and improve its standard database,” he said. “Their business is all driven by licence sales. That’s all they talk about. There’s no motivation for the company to make its DBs any better.” Why is that? “Because if a customer says he needs more horsepower from their Oracle DB to get the workloads completed on time, Oracle responds to them: ‘Buy some more cores, and that’ll fix the problem.’ More licence sales, not better products, is what Oracle’s game plan is,” he said.