Why MySQL's creator thinks IBM could acquire the database

And what it says about 'Monty' Widenius' motives for blocking Oracle's acquisition of MySQL

A quick review of Save MySQL online petition stats shows that the results are still in line with the results I reported previously. Over 90 percent of petition signees would require Oracle to divest MySQL to a "suitable third party."

I noticed that MySQL co-founder and creator Michael "Monty" Widenius' post explaining the petition provided several options for a "suitable third party." First off, Monty makes it clear that his company is not interested in acquiring MySQL. Monty's list of potential buyers includes IBM, Fujitsu, any of the major Linux distribution vendors, or a private equity firm that would take MySQL public.

[ Back in September MySQL users expressed nervousness about Oracle acquiring Sun. | Neil McAllister traces who wins if Oracle loses MySQL. | Stay up to speed with the open source community via InfoWorld's Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

As an IBMer, I was interested to hear more about Monty's thoughts on IBM. (Note that I do not work in the division where IBM's database, DB2, is managed. Nor do I have any information about IBM's interest, or lack thereof, in MySQL.)

I asked Monty this question via e-mail: Would you require that IBM add the linking exception or have to relicense MySQL under the ASL 2.0 in order to acquire MySQL? The linking exception or having to relicense MySQL are two of the options that Monty & Florian Mueller would like to see Oracle select before being allowed to acquire MySQL.

Monty replied:

Personally I don't consider IBM a direct competitor to MySQL and thus there would not be a need for a licensing remedy...With MySQL, IBM would have a vehicle to become a market leader in databases. IBM could only do this if they keep MySQL free to ensure it keeps it dominant position in units...IBM has more to gain by keeping MySQL Open Source and available to all than they could get by killing it. With Oracle this is not the case.

At first I bristled at his reply. Why should Oracle accept a set of restrictions that IBM -- another competitor in the database market -- would not face? However, the difference lies in the market position of the acquiring vendor. Oracle is the revenue leader in the relational database market with over 40 percent share, according to Gartner and IDC. I don't have the Gartner data handy, but IDC data suggests that Oracle had approximately a 2:1 lead versus IBM and Microsoft individually. Considering Oracle's market position, it's understandable that regulators would treat an Oracle acquisition of MySQL differently than, for example, a Microsoft or IBM acquisition of MySQL.

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