MySQL Founder Takes On Oracle Over Acquisition

Open SourceSoftware

MySQL creator Monty Widenius has taken a hard line against Oracle getting its hands on the open source database

With the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle still in the air, MySQL creator Monty Widenius has come out in strong opposition to the deal.

In a blog post, Widenius urged the MySQL community to contact the European Commission regarding Oracle’s possible acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which bought MySQL AB in 2008.

“Without your immediate help Oracle might get to own MySQL any day now,” Widenius wrote. “By writing to the European Commission (EC) you can support this cause and help secure the future development of the product MySQL as an Open Source project.”

His 12 Dec call to arms is one side of warring campaigns surrounding the deal. Today, Oracle issued 10 promises to the EC in order to quell the commission’s fears. Among them to “enhance MySQL in the future under the GPL” (general public license) and create a MySQL Customer Advisory Board within six months of the deal. Oracle has also pledged to increase spending on MySQL research and development during each of the next three years, and to eclipse what Sun spent on the database in its most recent fiscal year before the closing of the transaction ($24 million) ($14.7m).

When the deal was first announced in April, reaction at the MySQL Conference & Expo 2009 was mixed. Since then, both the Independent Oracle Users Group and the Oracle Applications Users Group have endorsed the deal. In an analysis of the proposed acquisition in June, Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg wrote that the deal “will be good for customers who wish to have a choice and for Oracle to gain new customers, currently purchasing open-source subscription support, allowing Oracle to up-sell to these new customers.”

A recent survey by The 451 Group, however, showed that some MySQL users remain hesitant to embrace the concept of an Oracle-owned MySQL.

“From the reactions of those who made the effort to explain their issues with Oracle it would appear that they fear that it will limit development and/or increase prices,” 451 Group analyst Matt Aslett told eWEEK. “Some of them just don’t like Oracle. It has to be said that the majority though are not bothered either way.”

Still, Widenius blogged that he was worried MySQL will suffer if it is in Oracle’s hands.

“Unlike 10 years ago, when MySQL was mostly just used for the Web, it has become very functional, scalable and credible,” he blogged. “Now it’s used in many of the world’s largest companies and they use it for an increasing number of purposes… A weak MySQL is worth about one billion dollars per year to Oracle, maybe more. A strong MySQL could never generate enough income for Oracle that they would want to cannibalise their real cash cow. I don’t think any company has ever done anything like that.”

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