EU Object to Oracle’s MySQL Takeover

By Craig Buckler

Oracle MySQLFollowing a recent investigation, European anti-trust regulators have formally objected to Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. The main issue is MySQL, the world’s most popular open-source database: the EU believes that the takeover could harm competition.

The $7.4 billion Oracle-Sun deal was announced in April 2009. Although US regulators have not raised objections, the EU investigation could put the merger plan at risk. EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes is known to support open-source technology and Oracle have posted a statement responding to her concerns:

[The EU objection] reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open source dynamics.

It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open source software that because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone. That is the whole point of open source.

Both Oracle and the US Justice Department have stated there are at least eight strong players in the database market so anti-competitive practices are unlikely to be successful. However, investors had already responded to possible EU objections and Sun is currently trading at more than 12% below Oracle’s takeover offer of $9.50 per share.

Would Oracle Harm MySQL?

MySQL is not a direct competitor to Oracle’s enterprise databases, but developers will be suspicious of the company’s motives. Oracle could embrace MySQL and exploit the market by selling consultancy, training, reference guides and database migration tools. However, they could also starve MySQL of developer resources and remove Sun’s supporting websites and services.

Unfortunately, Oracle have remained tight-lipped about their plans for MySQL. Although MySQL’s open-source development does not depend on the company, forking the database into multiple systems is unlikely to benefit anyone. Finally, are there really eight “strong” players in the database market? MySQL dominates the web and switching to another system is not a task many site owners and developers would be willing to undertake.

Are you concerned about Oracle’s takeover of MySQL?

Related reading:

  • Stephen Hill

    I’m quite interested to hear what other people think about this.

  • USPatriot

    It’s funny, if Microsoft was doing this, the pitch-forks and torches would be outside Redmond. You don’t see this anti-trust crap anywhere else in the world, except Europe. First they go after Microsft, for acting like a BUSINESS, go figure. Now, it’s Oracle. Who’s next that isn’t open-source.

  • USPatriot

    Oh, to anwser your question, I hope they kill MySQL. Entitlements are bad for the industry. Thats how Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, Apple, .ect stay in business. Allowing them to bring us the great products they do.

  • twistie

    As the article mentions an open source project is quite hard to kill, and I doubt Oracle would attempt such a thing fearing revolt from a dedicated user and developer community. However, Oracle may not necessarily lead the development of MySQL in the right direction and may pull Sun Microsystems’ current significant support behind the project. After all Oracle has for a very long time been the leader in the enterprise database sector and as such may lead MySQL on a development path to encourage it for smaller implementations to protect its proprietary interests. I also have concerns for other free (as in speech) and open source software projects that Sun Microsystems supports. While Oracle has in the past made significant investments in Open Source projects the great majority of these have been related to supporting or improving their proprietary products. It shows Oracle does have made contributions to open source software but is this out of convenience and licensing issues or is it due to a true passion that the company holds for forwarding Free and Open Source Software?

    As for USPatriot’s comments, the EU anti-trust regulations are there to protect consumers. It is only because the United States is a capitalist paradise where the government often puts consumers lower on a scale of importance that the interests of corporations that are earning your government millions in taxes that similar anti-trust regulations are not enforced. Furthermore, Open Source software is not bad for the software industry, it offers competition for those willing to charge for their product to up their game and develop better and more advanced software. Furthermore products such as Apples Mac OS largely consists of parts of various BSD based operating systems, all licensed under the highly permissive open source BSD Licenses. Furthermore many businesses are thriving off developing Open Source software including Canonical Ltd and Mozilla. Open Source is not competition for proprietary software but rather a different business model for the development of software offering consumers the software they want for free (or even at a small cost for compiled binaries) and finding alternate methods for making revenue.

  • TheWix

    @ twistie
    Well Said. Thank you SIR !!!!! Bill gates is the biggest welfare queen in the U.S.

  • Very interesting… I’m suspect of Oracle’s intensions. They have a history of predatory practices and seem to have plans for open source software.

    The statement that there are eight DB players is laughable and certainly isn’t the case on the Internet. The players in the internet DB game are Microsoft and MySQL. Sure Oracle, Microsoft and IBM rule the business application database world but the web is dominated by MySQL and I know first hand of several enterprise offline apps running MySQL.

    It’s a good thing the EU is getting involved because the DOJ only seems interested in Google these days and seem to be ineffective in their capacity.

  • W2ttsy

    Crushing support for MySQL would be a stupid move for Oracle. If i were running the game i would leave mysql as it was and create a transition path to oracle’s enterprise DB. Then as developers exceed mysql’s abilities, they can easily transition their app to Oracle. In fact if the only difference was installing oracle and buying a licence, then people would jump as soon as their apps started to suffer performance wise.

    More companies should be running the Apple iPod into iMac game, and this is a perfect opportunity for Oracle to do just that. Get them hooked on the free version that has enough power for most applications, and then when they need more, pay to shift into the big league. Of course if Oracle also strengthened mysql with Oracles DB core, then it would just increase its popularity even more. Microsoft are doing this successfully with the .NET platform. They have Visual studio express to get people hooked into their service mix, and then offer Visual Studio 2008 for professional/enterprise needs.

  • Very interesting… I’m suspect of Oracle’s intensions. They have a history of predatory practices and seem to have plans for open source software.

    Are they evil plans, though?

    They bought Innobase (InnoDB) and nothing bad has happened yet. They also bought Sleepycat (Berkeley DB) and that’s fine too. Development continues apace on both. Oracle has also contributed a pretty hefty quantity of code to the Linux kernel.

    As amusing as it is to picture Larry sitting there going all ‘mua-ha-ha-ha’, I’m not convinced of the argument that the motivation is to do anything untoward with MySQL.

  • USPatriot


    Bill Gates also created the most powerful software entity on the planet, god bless capitalism. Oh, not just software, I also own the Zune HD (Better then IPod Touch) and the X-Box 360, highest selling console in 2009! Numbers don’t lie, people do.

  • As amusing as it is to picture Larry sitting there going all ‘mua-ha-ha-ha’, I’m not convinced of the argument that the motivation is to do anything untoward with MySQL.

    I know… I can’t quite figure out what Larry’s up to. The Linux and Berkley things didn’t really worry me because hey… It’s Linux and so what if he controls a flavor or two. The project is bigger than one distribution and I’ve read that they have contributed. MySQL is another story though. Pretty much any hosting ISP that offers Apache hosting also offers MySQL and a massive number of Windows hosts also provide PHP/MySQL. For the enterprise it’s a small player compared to the big three (IBM, MS, Oracle) but on the web my bet is it is #1.

    For me it’s amusing to picture Larry sitting there going all ‘mua-ha-ha-ha’ because he and I could be twins separated at birth. I look quite like him and he’s not a handsome man :p

  • seanl

    switched to postgresql shortly after the merger was announced but had been looking at that for a while the merger was just another nail in the coffin as it were

  • Anonymous

    Why trust them ?

    Why play Russian roulette with the most important open source database ?

  • Why trust them ?

    Why play Russian roulette with the most important open source database ?

  • TheWix

    @ USPatriot.
    So, you’re me you’re a liar? I’m glad you have a lot of toys. What is your point?

  • TheWix

    @ USPatriot.
    So, you’re telling me you’re a liar? I’m glad you have a lot of toys. What is your point?

  • @TheWix
    I think USPatriot is just trolling. Nothing he/she’s contributed makes sense or provides rational thought.

    Just ignore : )

    BTW USPatriot: During the first half of 2009 XBox 360 beats out PS3 but Nintendo Wii spanks them both according to sales of individual consoles and sales of software in the US. You’re right numbers don’t lie.

Get the latest in Front-end, once a week, for free.