mySQL founders fork on the post-Oracle future

Summary:The co-founders of mySQL have profound disagreements on the future of the open source database following Oracle's takeover.Monty Widenius wants mySQL sold, not given to Oracle, telling reporters his Monty AB encouraged the investigation that has held up the Oracle-Sun deal.

The co-founders of mySQL have profound disagreements on the future of the open source database following Oracle's takeover.

Monty Widenius wants mySQL sold, not given to Oracle, telling reporters his Monty AB encouraged the investigation that has held up the Oracle-Sun deal.

Meanwhile Marten Mickos has written the EU's Competition Commissioner, Nellie Kroes, to let the deal go through.

At issue is whether the community around mySQL can compete best against Oracle's dominance from inside or outside the company. Ineffectual forks of the code have already been launched.

Our Matt Asay suggests resistance is futile, writing that Oracle and mySQL are built for different markets, and that fighting Oracle will just degrade the asset. He notes that IBM put $1 billion into Linux, and hints that kind of investment is necessary to compete.

I suspect he's right on that, but this does not mean the EC must stand idly by and watch a proprietary vendor extend its monopoly into open source. It means they should know the cost of what they're proposing.

If Europe wants to build a mySQL fork that truly competes with Oracle in the enterprise market, the way forward is to collect the funds needed to make that happen. There is more at stake here than competition in the database market.

As Sun's Scott McNealy told Oracle's OpenWorld, the combined company wants to compete with IBM in hardware. That will take money, more money than Sun has, and the Sun assets are degrading as the EU dithers. Hardware customized around the Oracle database is the way to compete, he says.

He may be right or wrong on that, but he deserves the chance to try. Holding up the merger on competitive grounds, ironically, could have the effect of preventing competition.

Competition costs money. You have to pay to play. If the EU is serious about mySQL competing with Oracle the way forward is clear. Put together the $1 billion needed for a fork to provide effective competition.

Regulators only have the power to say yes or no. They don't have the ability to create businesses. Businessmen have that. And the best businessmen know that money alone does not make for a successful business. It takes money, talent, and a well-executed business plan for that.

Does Europe have what it takes to compete, or is its only talent destruction? That's a question its businesspeople need to answer. Monty says yes they can, Marten says no they can't.

Topics: Data Centers, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Open Source, Oracle, Software

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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