I've never been a fan of Oracle, a company that bullies its customers and used its billions to scarf up nearly all of its competitors in enterprise software. But Larry Ellison and company are right to stand up to the European Union. The demand by the European Commission (the EU's executive arm) that Oracle agree to spin out MySQL before approving its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun is unnecessary and destructive. And with a few exceptions, there's strong support for that position in the open source community.
"Unless Oracle decides to snuff out MySQL entirely, it's hard to see why it would be a bad thing. They have resources to further development and to build community. And since MySQL will still be freely available regardless, users can simply opt to stick with an unpaid version," says Dave Rosenberg, co-founder and former CEO of MuleSource.
Exactly. Oracle claims -- and I agree -- that it has no reason to damage MySQL. It's simply not a significant threat to Oracle's position in the enterprise database market. In fact, it's complementary, giving Oracle entry to companies that use MySQL on a departmental or work team level.
Moreover, "Oracle has shown itself to be a pretty good steward of the [open source] Sleepycat technology it bought a couple of years ago," argues Bernard Golden, a longtime open source consultant and author.
Who's the bully now?
So why is the EU throwing its weight around? "The EU wants to spawn a native IT industry," says Dennis Byron, an analyst at IT Investment Research. What's more, he says, the big winners if the spin-off occurs are likely to be Michael Widenius and others who are attempting to build a MySQL fork called Maria into a business, he says.
There's also the possibility that German software maker SAP, Oracle's most potent rival in enterprise applications market, has been using its political muscle to block the deal -- a claim SAP denies.