Oracle proposes new MySQL plan to EU

The company takes measures designed to prop up the competitiveness of MySQL, in an attempt to grease the wheels of the European Commission's inquiry into its takeover of Sun
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor on

Oracle on Monday announced a series of measures designed to help convince the European Commission to approve the company's takeover of Sun, steps the Commission described as "significant".

European regulators opened an investigation into Oracle's proposed Sun takeover in September, principally looking into concerns that the buyout would damage the competitiveness of Sun's MySQL database offering. The acquisition has already been approved by US antitrust authorities.

Oracle faced a Monday deadline of submitting proposals to address the Commission's concerns, ahead of the Commission's own deadline of 27 January, 2010, to deliver a final decision on the matter.

One of the most significant of the proposals is Oracle's undertaking to change the policy of Sun regarding third-party storage vendors that implement MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture application programming interfaces (APIs) in their storage engines.

Currently, Sun requires that such vendors release their storage engines under the open-source GNU General Public Licence (GPL), but Oracle said it will no longer require this.

In addition, Oracle said it will not require third-party storage engine vendors to have a commercial licence in order to implement the APIs in question.

In another undertaking, Oracle made a commitment to storage vendors that currently have a commercial licence with Sun. The database giant said it would offer an extension of these contracts on the same terms and conditions for a five-year period.

Oracle said for the next three years it would spend more on research and development for MySQL than Sun spent in its most recent fiscal year ($24m, or £15m).

Oracle's other proposals included to continue to maintain and "enhance" MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture, to keep the GPL-licensed versions of MySQL up to date with MySQL Enterprise Edition, not to require MySQL customers to purchase support services from Oracle, and to create advisory boards for customers and storage engine vendors.

"The geographic scope of these commitments shall be worldwide, and these commitments shall continue until the fifth anniversary of the closing of the transaction," Oracle said in a statement outlining the measures.

The EU said it welcomed the proposals, saying the provisions around MySQL's storage APIs and the extension of existing commercial licences in particular were "significant new facts".

"Today's announcement by Oracle of a series of undertakings to customers, developers and users of MySQL is an important new element to be taken into account in the ongoing proceedings," the Commission said in a statement.

The Commission said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes was "optimistic" that the case will have a "satisfactory outcome".

In October, former MySQL leader Mårten Mickos urged European Union regulators to approve Oracle's acquisition of Sun, arguing that further waiting undermined the very competitiveness the EU was trying to protect.

Editorial standards