With the final hurdle regarding the MySQL database cleared, Oracle today announced it has completed the deal to acquire Sun Microsystems.
Now that the deal is complete, Oracle claims it will put more research money, more development money and more marketing money behind MySQL. Charles Phillips, president of Oracle, said that the merger with Sun will primarily provide extended market reach for Oracle. At a media event today, Phillips met with customers and the press to explain where the merger would take Sun.
Most of his discussion focused on the integration of hardware and software, but also touched on vertical market-specific application stacks and infrastructure. Phillips likened the post-merger Oracle to the IBM of the 1960s. He said that IBM had offered completely engineered systems from software to hardware, and that the IBM of the 1960s produced reliable equipment that served as the gold standard of the day.
Many of the changes Phillips discussed were around Sun’s supply and sales chain. Phillips said that Oracle is currently in the process of hiring 2,000 new salespeople, all of whom will be compensated on a new margin-based compensation plan, which Phillips said would make Oracle’s salespeople the best-compensated salespersons in the technology world. He also said that Oracle was immediately commencing a 70-city tour to meet with customers.
But MySQL remained off of the table for most of the day, as Oracle and Sun executives spent their time discussing software and hardware integrations, as well as proposed reorganizations of Sun’s service and support offerings.
The acquisition had been hung up by the European Commission, which believed the deal to be anti-competitive on the database front. Finally, on Jan. 21, the EC (the executive arm of the European Union) was convinced the deal would not harm competition. EC competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement: “I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned. Oracle’s acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalise important assets and create new and innovative products.”
The statement also explained the competition commissioner’s decision. “The Commission’s investigation showed that another open-source database, PostgreSQL, is considered by many database users to be a credible alternative to MySQL and could be expected to replace to some extent the competitive force currently exerted by MySQL on the database market.
“In addition, the Commission found that ‘forks’ (branches of the MySQL code base), which are legally possible given MySQL’s open-source nature, might also develop in future to exercise a competitive constraint on Oracle in a sufficient and timely manner.”
The EC also delved into the specifics of Oracle’s pledges to its customers. Oracle in December issued a bevy of promises in press releases to customers around its future treatment of MySQL. The EC’s statement on the merger cited these promises.
“Given the specificities of the open-source software industry, the Commission also took into account Oracle’s public announcement of 14 December 2009 of a series of pledges to customers, users and developers of MySQL concerning issues such as the continued release of future versions of MySQL under the GPL (General Public Licence) open-source licence,” read the statement.
“Oracle has already taken action to implement some of its pledges by making binding offers to third parties who currently have a licensing contract for MySQL with Sun to amend contracts. This is likely to allow third parties to continue to develop storage engines to be integrated with MySQL and to extend the functionality of MySQL.”
MySQL’s creator, along with developers and users in the MySQL community, have been worried that Oracle will not live up to these promises, and the company’s handling of InnoDB is often cited as an example. Kevin Burton, CEO and founder of SaaS Web-crawler company Spinn3r, has used MySQL since the company began.
Burton said that Oracle’s acquisition of InnoDB, at the time the most popular open-source transaction engine for MySQL, resulted in a much slower pace of development for that transaction engine. Burton said he has already moved his company towards a MySQL-less future based on Drizzle and Percona, both of which are new open-source takes on old MySQL projects.
The European Union seemed quite confident in the capabilities of PostgreSQL, the “other” open-source database. Bruce Momjian, cofounder of the PostgreSQL, sees the EU’s ruling as a validation of the power of PostgreSQL.
“The approval of Oracle’s acquisition of Sun is not surprising. What is surprising is that after months of deliberation, the European Commission never fully understood the competitive issues surrounding MySQL,” said Momjian.
“PostgreSQL can handle any of the lightweight processing that MySQL was designed for, but in reality PostgreSQL is a full-featured open-source database built for high-transaction, highly scalable enterprise applications.”
Momjian continued: “MySQL was built by developers for quick and dirty applications with simple scripting languages, but it’s not ready for true enterprise IT developers. PostgreSQL, on the other hand, was designed to address the needs of IT applications requiring a full-featured RDBMS.”