After next week, Oracle's $7.4 billion roller-coaster ride will finally come to an end, as there remains little doubt that the European Commission will approve the company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. With that being the case, protesters from the MySQL community have all but given up the battle in Europe and are now turning their attention to regulators in Russia and China, ITNews.com reports.
"The European Commission showed courage and competence during most of the investigation but looked very weak in the end," said MySQL founder Michael 'Monty' Widenius in a statement on Monday, adding that China and Russia "are powerful, self-confident, and open-source friendly countries and they have every right to do a better job on this than the EU."
Both nations are still investigating the deal and have yet to give Oracle the green light. So far, Widenius' helpmysql.org campaign has managed to attract 600 supporters in China and over 800 in Russia. On a global scale, the campaign stands at 30,000 signatures strong since its launch on December 28.
MySQL developers from around the world are doing what they can to convince the European Union to rule against Oracle's proposed $7.4 billion takeover bid of Sun Microsystems. And therein lies the problem: there's not much the MySQL community can do at this point.
In a last ditch effort to block the deal, developers took to emailing regulators from not just the EC, but also Russia, China, and various other countries. In addition, they've put together a petition signed by 14,000 MySQL users, all protesting the acquisition.
"In less than one week, during the holiday season, we gathered 50 times more customer support than Oracle claimed three weeks ago, when it presented a few hundred orchestrated letters from customers to the European Commission," MySQL creator Michael Widenius said in a statement. "The campaign has only started, and the number of signatures will double very quickly."
The problem for Widenius, and everyone else who opposes the deal, is that time is quickly running out. Oracle made a series of concessions that has EU regulators ready to approve the deal, and according to eWeek's sources, it's going to happen within the month.
Nevertheless, Widenius promised to keep drumming up support for his campaign right up until the bitter end, which might not be that far off.
For a long while, things weren't looking too hot for Oracle in its planned $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. While the U.S. Department of Justice approved the deal, the European Union voiced serious displeasure over the idea of an Oracle-owned MySQL and threatened to block the deal.
That no longer looks to be the case. Now the European Commission is saying it feels "optimistic" that a deal between Oracle and Sun would no longer pose a threat to the European market for database software. So why the sudden about-face?
Oracle promised to preserve the viability of the free and open-source MySQL database application that it would acquire in the deal. According to a report in The New York Times, Oracle vowed to extend MySQL's existing commercial licenses for up to five years, while also making binding guarantees to companies and individuals that already use MySQL that it would not pursue intellectual property claims.
On top of it all, Oracle also said it would spend upwards of $72 million over the next three years in R&D to improve MySQL, negating any concerns that Oracle would turn a cold shoulder to the open-source database app in order to better sell its own paid software.
"Today's announcement by Oracle of a series of undertakings to customers, developers, and users of MySQL is an important new element to be taking into account in the ongoing proceedings," said Brussels' merger officials in a statement.
Oracle will have to wait a little bit longer before deciding on its next step in its planned $7.4 billion takeover of Sun. That's because European Union regulators on Friday said they have extended the deadline of its review until January 27 in response to Oracle asking for more time "in order to have the opportunity to further develop its arguments in response to the Commission's concerns."
The new deadline gives Oracle six additional days to plead its case, which consists of convincing the EU that the purchase of open-source database software MySQL isn't a conflict of interest and won't hamstring competition.
While the U.S. has already approved the multi-billion dollar deal, the EU contends that should Oracle acquire Sun, it would purposely kill off the free and open-source MySQL so as not to cannibalize its own paid server database software. But Oracle has accused the EU of not understanding the database market, particularly how it applies on the open-source level.
Should the EU ultimately rule against the deal, Oracle said it would fight the decision in court.
Coming as a surprise to absolutely no one, the European Union on Monday formally objected to Oracle's proposed takeover of Sun. The EU's hard stance could throw a wrench in the $7.4 billion deal that had already been approved by U.S. officials.
The sole sticking point for the EU is that the deal would give Oracle control over Sun's free MySQL database software. Because Oracle sells its own database software, the EU fears the company would purposely hamstring MySQL in order to boost its own sales.
"The Commission's Statement of Objections reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open source dynamics," Oracle said in response to the objection. "It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open source software that because MykSQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone. That is the whole point of open source."
Oracle will have an opportunity to respond to the EU's objections before it makes its final ruling on the deal by January 19. Even then, should the EU outright reject the deal, Oracle could file an appeal. The alternative is to back out of the acquisitionl, which would cost Oracle a $260 million breakup fee, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Oracle knows it's in for a fight with the European Union over the U.S. company's planned $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems, but appears ready to go the rounds, according to a Financial Times report.
The EU is mainly concerned about whay Oracle might end up doing with Sun's MySQL code base, such as killing it off or dropping support in order to push its own non-free database package. And according to FT.com, one person close to the process says the EU is ever-so-close to issuing an official statement of objection, which is step one in blocking the deal.
It's unlikely Oracle will back down, choosing instead to wait and see what the EU decides. Should the Commission object, Oracle could choose to offer concessions or take its fight to court.
The Sun acquisition has already been given the green light by the U.S. Department of Justice.
While Oracle struggles to convince the European Union that acquiring the copyrights to the MySQL code base is in the best interest of all involved, Red Hat isn't waiting around to see if the deal gets sanctioned or not. Instead, the open-source outfit went and invested an unspecified amount in database vendor EnterpriseDB, InfoWorld.com reports.
"EnterpriseDB has clearly established itself as a leading enterprise Postgres company, which is why Red Hat has chosen to partner with and invest in the company. EnterpriseDB is also working to create customer value through a subscription support model. Clearly, this is a model we see as beneficial," said Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat.
The move is also a clear indication that Red Hat is worried about what would become of MySQL once under the reigns of Oracle. Red Hat owes much of its popularity as a server platform to users looking to run the free MySQL piggybacked on top of Red Hat. And no matter what Oracle is saying to the EU, there's a lingering fear that should the takeover go through, Oracle may end up weakening MySQL to prevent it from cutting into the sales of Oracle Database.
EnterpriseDB isn't as widely used as MySQL, though many consider it a better fit for larger enterprise workloads, and it has already been able to win over customers from Oracle. But it's also important to keep in mind that this is an investment, and not an acquisition.
One of the challenges facing Oracle in its $7.4 billion takeover bid of Sun Microsystems is in convincing the European Commission that it plans to devote just as much attention to the free, open-source MySQL database as it will on any of its own costlier parallel database products. So far Oracle has a hard time convincing the EC of that, so should Oracle drop MySQL altogether? Former MYSQL business adviser Florian Mueller seems to think so.
Mueller isn't alone, either. Members of the EC feel that owning MySQL through the acquisition of Sun presents a huge conflict of interest for Oracle, who is poised to become the owner of its biggest open-source competitor.
"Oracle is a high-priced cash cow in the parallel database business," Mueller said during a press conference on Monday. "Why then should it be the one entity that controls development, determines revenues, and controls an R&D budget of a competing product that it sells against directly in the database market?"
Naturally, Oracle has a different perspective. According to Oracle CEO and founder Larry Ellison, MySQL isn't a competitor at all, and he points out MySQL has its own market and following. Instead, Ellison says Microsoft SQL Server is Oracle's competition.
But no matter how Ellison feels, it's the EC who has the final word, at least in Europe. Without the EC's stamp of approval, Oracle won't be able to do business in Europe. As it stands, the EC has set a deadline of January 19, 2010 to make a final decision to sanction the deal or not, although it could decide even sooner.