Former MySQL CEO cites good fortune for Oracle

Marten Mickos believes the acquisition is a good move, but others at conference worry about what the acquisition plan could mean for MySQL

The former CEO of MySQL stressed Tuesday that the open source MySQL database will be a strong asset for Oracle when it buys Sun Microsystems, which had acquired MySQL in 2008.

Some at the MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., on Tuesday were apprehensive about the Sun-Oracle merger and what it means for the popular database, which undoubtedly has been sapping Oracle revenues. But Marten Mickos, the one-time CEO of MySQL who recently left Sun, offered a more pragmatic perspective when interviewed at Tuesday's event.

[ For the full scoop on the Oracle-Sun deal, see InfoWorld's special report | Related: "Is Java as we know it doomed?" and "Oracle wins 'Acquirer of the Year' award at MySQL Conference" ]

"I think it's a main reason for them to be buying Sun," said Mickos, who until recently was senior vice president of the Sun database group.

"It's a huge asset. It has huge future potential," Mickos said. "It allows them to compete with Microsoft more successfully." MySQL helps Oracle better compete with Microsoft's SQL Server database, and MySQL's large developer base also boosts Oracle, Mickos said.

MySQL has been popular in Web deployments, used in installations like Google, which had a keynote speaker at the conference Tuesday. But Mickos acknowledged the risk that Oracle, a leader in the commercial enterprise database market, might hold MySQL back from making more of an enterprise play. "I don't think they will do so," Mickos added.

Many companies had been interested in acquiring MySQL, he said. "It wasn't only Sun and Oracle who were interested," said Mickos. He would not comment on who other suitors were.

Others at the conference had questions about the Oracle-Sun arrangement as it pertains to MySQL.

"We're concerned," said attendee Michael Lawrence, an architect at Performant Financial."Oracle has a reputation for not playing well with competition, and MySQL was a direct competitor to Oracle."

Performant has been using MySQL in nonproduction environments and was evaluating its use as a possible replacement for IBM Informix databases used in production. "Even though I'm here [at this event] today, we have to reconsider our MySQL commitment" as a result of the merger, Lawrence said. He also questioned the wisdom of Oracle, a software company, buying Sun, a hardware company.

A MySQL user at Cisco Media Solutions Group had mixed feelings. "I'm very concerned," said Jennifer Snyder, database administrator, who said she was not speaking for Cisco. "I think that it'll definitely have an impact on whether InnoDB is going to continue to be a viable storage engine," she said. InnoDB has been the MySQL storage engine already under Oracle jurisdiction.

"I think it's very obvious partnership that InnoDB and MySQL will be back under the same roof. I've certainly had some concerns about whether the Falcon storage engine is going to be viable, and this makes me feel a bit better about it," said Snyder, adding she would keep her eyes open about the merger. Falcon is a transactional storage engine integrated into MySQL.

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