One Oracle-Sun Foe: Not So Fast


One of the last vocal opponents to Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, former MySQL database executive Florian Mueller, complained that the European Commission is showing "wishful thinking" by approving the acquisition.

The EC on Thursday finally gave its stamp of approval to the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, nearly nine months after the planned acquisition was announced.

Sun acquired the open-source MySQL database developer in early 2008.

The text of the EC's approval can be read by clicking here.

Mueller, who was a strategic adviser to the MySQL CEO from 2001 to 2004 and then worked with MySQL on patent policies until 2006, has collected more than 35,000 signatures in an online petition opposing the acquisition. Mueller remains concerned that Oracle will kill MySQL in order to squelch competition against its own database software.

In an e-mailed response to Channelweb, Mueller claimed that the EC's contention is flawed. The PostgreSQL open-source database, which is built around the same code as MySQL, is not "a credible alternative" to MySQL and could not be expected to replace it in the database market.

"PostgreSQL has been around for decades without having had its mainstream breakthrough, so the EC can't seriously claim that PostgreSQL could replace MySQL as a competitive force. Forks [derived works based on an existing open-source project] are a legal possibility but there's no reason to assume that any MySQL fork, or even a number of such forks collectively, could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could," Mueller wrote.

Mueller also said that Oracle's promise to support the continued release of MySQL is not legally binding and would not have any significant pro-competitive effect even if it was.

"I can't think of a single bad thing, short of discontinuing the product immediately, that Oracle couldn't do while still complying fully with those promises in a legal sense," he wrote.

Mueller also wrote that the EC's reasoning may not be upheld in case of an appeal, so its decision should not be used by other regulators debating whether to approve the acquisition. He was referring in part to China and Russia, two countries whose regulators have yet to rule on the acquisition.

"Oracle still needs clearance from the Chinese and Russian antitrust authorities and it's a matter of respect not to consider this process finished until those major jurisdictions have also taken and announced their decisions," he wrote.

Oracle plans to unveil details on its acquisition of Sun in a Jan. 27 Webcast.