Interestingly, while users are worried about the future of MySQL under Oracle, the database soared in popularity, if not profitability, under Sun. According to Chowdhry, downloads of MySQL were averaging about 20,000 day before Sun purchased the company and soared to 60,000 a day after the acquisition. But it's dropped back to 20,000 or 25,000 more recently, quite possibly because of the Oracle takeover.
If Chowdhry's sources are correct, and MySQL's revenue has been flat, that's a bad omen for its future outside of Oracle. Even if the selling price were low, running a revenue-challenged company isn't a great idea in a wretched economy.
A multivendor foundation could be the answer
"My gut feeling is that the EC will not ask Oracle to spin off MySQL as its low market share does not justify such an action," Aslett told me. "However, I think the EC is well aware that the influence of MySQL in the market is greater than its market share, and that is why it is seeking more details from Oracle about its plans for MySQL and whether it will maintain the open source license and commercial relationships."
Although Aslett believes Oracle will ultimately see value in MySQL and keep it, if it does decide to spin it off, "the list of potential acquirers would include Red Hat (the database is a major hole in its portfolio) and (if it could raise enough money) the Monty Program. Private equity firms would also be interested in establishing the company as a stand-alone company again," he says.
Another possibility would be to hand MySQL to a multivendor foundation, which would relicense the code under a more permissive license or promise not to assert copyright against the use of the code with non-GPL software.
I like the sound of that. MySQL has earned a place in the software firmament, and it's not inside Oracle. An independent MySQL run by a neutral foundation may be the best hope for its long-term survival.
Disclosure: I own a small number of shares in Oracle.
I value your comments, tips, and suggestions. Reach me at email@example.com.