Oracle has uncharacteristically found itself maneuvered (by its own actions) into a rare hubristic place where it's:
- Footing the bill for the publicity advancement of its quarry ... MySQL is more famous than ever, along with its low-cost and open attributes.
- Watching the value of its larger quarry, Sun Microsystems, dwindle by the day as users flee the SPARC universe in search of greener (and leaner) binary pastures.
- Aiding and abetting its chief competitors, IBM, HP, Red Hat and Microsoft, as they circle the Sun carcass making the installed base offers they can't refuse. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
- Giving open source middleware a boost in general too as Oracle seems to saying that MySQL is worth hundreds of millions of dollars (dead or alive); the equivalent of what it's losing by not spinning MySQL out of the total Sun package.
- Both denigrating and revering the fine attributes of the awesome MySQL code and community, leaving the other database makers happy to let Oracle pay for and do their dirty work of keeping MySQL under control.
This last point takes the cake. IBM, Microsoft and Sybase really don't want MySQL to take over the world, err ... Web, any time soon, either. But they also want to coddle the developers who may begin with MySQL and then hand off to the IT operators who may be inclined, err ... seduced, to specify a commercial RDB ... theirs ... for the life of the app.
So it's a delicate dance to profess love for MySQL while setting the snare to eventually tie those new apps to the costly RDBs and associated Java middleware (and hardware, if you can). Let's not also forget the budding lust for all things appliance by certain larger vendors (Oracle included).
If Oracle, by its admission to the EU antitrust mandarins, thinks MySQL has little market value and is not a direct competitor to its heavy-duty Oracle RDB arsenal, than why doesn't it just drop MySQL, by vowing to spin it out or sell it? Then the Sun deal would get the big rubber stamp.
It's because not of what MySQL is worth now, but what it may become. Oracle wants to prune the potential of MySQL while not seeming to do anything of the sort.
The irony is that Oracle has advanced MySQL, lost money in the process, and helped its competitors -- all at the same time. When Oracle buys Sun and controls MySQL the gift (other than to Microsoft SQL Server) keeps on giving as the existential threat to all commercial RDBs is managed by Redwood Shores.
And we thought Larry Ellison wasn't overly charitable.