After finishing my post about Monty Widenius's views on the Oracle acquisition of MySQL via Sun, I read that Richard Stallman (RMS) had published an open letter on the topic.
Matt Asay writes: "Has anyone read this RMS/KEI/ORG ltr? It's living in dreamland. ORCL buying MySQL to prevent "erosion" of its core DB biz? What erosion???"
Since Matt and I agree on much more today than two years ago, I began reading the open letter with less than an open mind. However, since I haven't really followed Oracle's database business, I decided to look into Oracle's financial reports to confirm or reject the "erosion" claim. I have to say, RMS may not have a black belt in pragmatism, but he's right -- not that I think this fact changes Oracle's likelihood of shepherding MySQL appropriately, but more on this point later.
I've plotted two revenue growth lines for Oracle over the past two years and a quarter. The blue line represents Oracle's total revenue growth for fiscal year 2008, 2009, and for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Oracle had a great fiscal 2008, with nearly 25 percent year-to-year revenue growth. More recently, Oracle's total revenue declined by 5.2 percent in the first quarter ended Aug. 31 -- not a shocking story considering the economy and Oracle's $20-billion-plus yearly revenue base.
The red line, however, is where it gets interesting. Oracle reports database and middleware revenue together. This category is largely made up of Oracle's database products and its middleware products resulting from the BEA acquisition. Even before the BEA acquisition, IDC estimated Oracle's database revenue to be nearly nine times larger than BEA's middleware revenue. For our purposes, we can assume that Oracle's "database and middleware" segment is extremely sensitive to Oracle's database sales.