EU right to investigate Oracle's MySQL buy

EU right to investigate Oracle's MySQL buy

Summary: The European Union is justifiably investigating whether Oracle's proposed purchase of Sun -- and its subsidiary MySQL -- will lead to reduced competition and higher prices in the database market.Of course it will, and that's part of the reason European regulators are taking a hard look at it.


The European Union is justifiably investigating whether Oracle's proposed purchase of Sun -- and its subsidiary MySQL -- will lead to reduced competition and higher prices in the database market.

Of course it will, and that's part of the reason European regulators are taking a hard look at it. MySQL AB, after all, was originally founded and developed in Sweden and Germany's SAP (along with Microsoft) is urging the EU to get involved after US regulators swiftly approved it without scrutinizing the impact on the database market.

Politics aside, it seems obvious that Oracle's purchase of MySQL (or a Microsoft buy of MySQL) will lead to higher prices in the database market. One of the core benefits of open source software is that it lacks license fees; its availability in any software market leads to reduced software pricing, and reduces the barrier of entry for customers.

I and others have grown concerned about the increasing number of proprietary software software giants gobbling up open source companies. And I've wondered why many of the deals get speedy approval without a harder look at the underlying motive -- vendors' wish to stop budding open source rivals and protect their margins. Conspirary theorists might think that Sun bought mySQL at Oracle's behest, as a requirement for Oracle's ultimate purchase of Sun.

It's understandable that the US government is hesitant to interfere in business these days lest it slow the economic recovery. And there are many who believe that "free" software undermines the value of intellectual property.

Nevertheless, US regulators should have analyzed the database angle. For its part, the Department of justice focused its investigation on the impact of the deal on Java. But it had to be obvious to those involved that Oracle had other reasons for picking up Sun.

Playing dumb does little to improve the credibility of the antitrust agency and even less to further the evolving software business model. Perhaps the government could have imposed some requirements on Oracle (like it did on Microsoft) to protect the MySQL code, its future and installed base of customers. ignoring it was a mistake.

Some proprietary-open source mergers are healthy for competition. Novell's purchase of SUSE and evolution to the Linux business model is a good example. But Oracle's purchase of MySQL? I think not.

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

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  • Devaluation of intellectual property

    You said: "And there are many who believe that
    ?free? software undermines the value of
    intellectual property."

    Of course if does. It is not a question of
    "believing", it is a fact. But so what?
    Intellectual property is devalued all the time
    when something better comes along - it has been
    happening for centuries. No intellectual
    property gives you an automatic right to
    benefit financially forever.

    Society benefits when better and/or cheaper
    ways of getting things done become available.
    It is called progress. The money saved will be
    spent elsewhere in the economy and society will
    become more affluent.

    If the above sounds a bit harsh, it is
    certainly NOT directed at you or your blog. I
    just wanted to set the record straight on that
    one issue. And I am in favor of the EU at least
    investigating the impact. We will see what
    action they decide to take if any.
  • RE: EU right to investigate Oracle's MySQL buy

    I'm glad, I wasn't the only one to point that out as it seems when asked by the EU ;-)
  • M$ is just playing spoiler here

    [i]Germany?s SAP (along with Microsoft) is urging the EU to get involved [/i].
    M$ can't wait to see MySql dissapear so they can jack up their prices!
    The only reason Ballmer fusses about it is because monkey boy wants to throw a wrench in whells of the competitors and get 5 minutes of fame.
    Linux Geek
    • Free market at work

      So we should be concerned that open source vendors decide to take the money and run. I guess they all aren't as altruistic as linus.
      • Actually, I would count Linus among the more pragmatic of OSS proponents.

        Unlike Linux Geek (who gives other Linux users like myself a bad name - boy do I wish he would change his user name) and his buddy Richard Stall-innovation-man, who just believe that commercial software is evil and will eventually be destroyed by the uprising of the Open Source community.

        I don't think Linus objects to companies making money on their software.. He just doesn't want other companies making money on HIS software.
    • YAWN. Please,

      will you come up with something new for a change? At this rate we will have to start reporting your posts as spam.

      You used to be amusing.
      • report as spam?

        So what you're saying is that he's not entitled to share his opinion on here? I see many "regular" users on here making the same sort of arguments again and again, for example, loverock, with his anti-Linux, anti-open source, pro- MS comments.

        Everyone has their own opinions and interpretations, and most have something valid to say. If they started to treat these peoples comments as spam, or deleting comments some don't agree with then there really isn't much point to having user comments, or any discussion. I see a lot of posts on here that I don't necessarily agree with and find annoying, but that doesn't justify reporting them as spam, or offensive.
  • I still think MySQL is somewhat of a red herring in all this..

    Of all technologies that Sun owns, MySQL offers Oracle the least strategic advantage. It's hard to believe that Oracle bought Sun for MySQL - if anything it's a very small bonus, and quite possibly an annoying distraction for Oracle to deal with. If I'm not mistaken, Oracle already controlled the most significant part of MySQL (innodb), and also had a stake in PostgreSQL (in my opinion, a far superior system than MySQL).

    Oracle wanted Java and Solaris - these are both key technologies to Oracle's flagship product. I wouldn't be surprised if Oracle cut MySQL free shortly after the acquisition is complete to look like a good Open Source community member. It certainly wouldn't cost them anything and it would save them a lot of headaches.
  • I favor EU more than the US government.

    The merger of Oracle and Sun sets one of the examples why the US government is not doing good very well. :(
    Grayson Peddie
  • RE: EU right to investigate Oracle's MySQL buy

    So IBM which owned Informix,DB2,solidDb an IMS would have
    been OK to buy Sun.
    Mysql is free and it is also sold. Oracle most likely will leave
    Mysql price alone and work on more features and scalability
    with innodb which it already owns.
    The Magic Garden Explained
  • Inside the case of ORACLE's acquisition of SUN

    I still believe there is a big conspiracy behind the merging case, I've written an article to analyze it in Chinese. If you would like to discuss about it, leave me a message at
    • Well, of course there is...

      ..Oracle is conspiring with Sun to form a merger.

      There you go - a conspiracy.
  • Oracle should roll off mySQL

    In the end, they don't really want it (except possibly for the "bad reason" of controlling competition). They wanted to own Java and have a hardware business, and that's what they bought Sun for - they could avoid a lot of hassle (and a potential block of the whole huge valuable deal!) by just spinning mySQL back off immediately. Moving under Sun turned out to be a major minus for the project anyway.
  • Sure investigate ... but let the ball move

    Oracle has not even been asked (and is not allowed to talk publicly by SEC rules) what they intend to do with the literally dozens of products.

    MySQL is open source. Oracle contributes a lot to open source. There are major projects in Apache that are entirely originated by Oracle.

    What I really don't understand is Why they are being judged and hung in public.
  • RE: EU right to investigate Oracle's MySQL buy

    Oracle's future depends on Java.

    If you look at Oracle very closely, they have for years given hints that database is a commodity - the only way to keep prices up with a commodity is by adding 'value', and they have been desperately doing this for years now.

    MySQL is nothing more than a side show. And not a particularity good one since the forks.