Oracle buys MySQL shocker (and they get the rest of Sun too)

2:08 pm freesoftware

In an effort to further perturb the free software market which has been threatening its middleware, application server and database markets recently, the management in Oracle has come up with the masterly stroke of buying Sun Microsystems, and with it a chief competitor, MySQL.

Oracle had already announced their intention to undermine MySQL a few years ago when they bought InnoDB, the ACID database engine used by MySQL, just 18 months before their licensing agreement with the Swedes was due to expire. If you don’t understand why a licensing agreement was needed, you need to think about what licence MySQL was distributing InnoDB under when selling commercial MySQL licences.

My thought at the time was that Oracle could just refuse to renew the licensing arrangement, leaving MySQL without a revenue stream. The problem became moot when Sun bought MySQL, and less critical when MySQL announced they were working on an alternative ACID engine.

Oracle have been trying to undermine free software vendors for a while now, including its launch of Unbreakable Linux to compete directly with Red Hat. Red Hat had previously purchased JBoss, a product competing directly with WebLogic, Oracle’s application server product.

I figure that Oracle will do what some people were suggesting Sun should have done: wrap up Sun into three different entities: storage, servers and software. They have an interest in keeping the storage unit around – there’s considerable synergy possible there for a database company.

Within the software business unit, they will probably drop OpenOffice.org pretty quickly, and I can’t see them maintaining support for OpenSolaris or GNOME. They will keep selling and supporting Solaris as a cash cow for years to come, in the same way IBM did with the Informix database server some years ago, and Java will be a valuable asset to them.

I don’t think Oracle has a strategic interest in becoming a hardware vendor, however, and I can’t imagine a very big percentage of their client base is using SPARC systems these days, so I don’t see them keeping the server business around for long.

Interesting days ahead in the free software world! From the point of view of MySQL, it will be interesting to see if some ex-MySQL employees take the old GPL code and keep the project going under a different company & different name, or if Drizzle (or one of the other forks) gets critical mass as a community-run project to take over a sizeable chunk of the install base. For Oracle, it will be interesting to see if they start trying to move existing MySQL customers over to Oracle, or if they maintain both products, or if they EOL all support on MySQL altogether and force people into a choice. I imagine that the most likely scenario is that they will maintain support staff, cut development staff, and let the product die a slow and painful death.

8 Responses

  1. Andreas Says:

    One of the few good things that cold come out of this would be a serious investment in OOo to hurt Microsoft’s Office cash cow. OOo has been in a sort of maintenance mode (or just development at glacial speed) for way too long IMHO.
    I could see a renewed attack on MS Office happening with the competitive attitude of Larry Ellison and his company…

  2. FACORAT Fabrice Says:

    MySQL a threat to Oracle ? Maybe in the low-end market, but really MySQL concerning features and scalability, MySQL can’t compete with Oracle.

    oracle vs MySQl vs PostgreSQL part 1

    oracle vs MySQl vs PostgreSQL part 2

    PostgreSQL vs. Oracle: Users speak out

    Comparison of relational database management systems


    Comparison of Oracle, MySQL and PostgreSQL DBMS

  3. dflock Says:

    I would actually quite like to see Ooo cut loose from all of Sun’s Community Process molasses; maybe development might free up a bit.

  4. Paul Cooper Says:

    I though Oracle recently renewed the InnoDB agreement anyway (prior to Sun acquisition of MySQL).

    While you have to wonder what Oracle will do, Oracle do now have a comprehensive DB portfolio; Sleepycat, MySQL, and full on Oracle DB. If they believe in the Innovators Dilemma then they now own the upstart ‘low end’ technology that’s eating them from underneath. Of course corporate politics aren’t always rational.

    Would agree that OOo, GNOME contribution, SPARC are probably on the chopping block. If they do cut OOo I would hope they set it free first by relicensing and/or donating to a appropriate foundation.

  5. Dave Neary Says:

    Indeed they did – I imagine the terms were not quite so favourable as they were with InnoBase. MariaDB lives on, though, through Monty’s new company. Should be interesting to see what comes of it.

  6. Aaron Strontsman Says:

    Now, at least we might know a reason why Sun wouldn’t apply for GSoC with Opeonoffice-org.

  7. Glynn Foster Says:

    Aaron: Not true – the main reason is that Google do not include Sun sponsored community projects for GSoC both because of a disagreement around Sun’s involvement in the Apache process and because they believe that those projects are already sponsored and the money could be best spent elsewhere.

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