A quick review of the Save MySQL online petition stats today shows that the results are still in line with the results I reported previously. Over 90 percent of petition signees would require Oracle to divest MySQL to a “suitable third party”. I noticed that Michael “Monty” Widenius’ post explaining the petition provided several options for a “suitable third party”. First off, Monty makes it clear that his company is not interested in acquiring MySQL. Monty’s list of potential buyers includes IBM, Fujitsu, any of the major Linux distribution vendors or a private equity firm that would take MySQL public.
As an IBMer I was interested to hear more about Monty’s thoughts on IBM. Note that I do not work in the division where IBM’s database, DB2, is managed. Nor do I have any information about IBM’s interest, or lack thereof, in MySQL.
I asked Monty this question via email:
Q] Would you require that IBM add the linking exception or have to re-license MySQL under the ASL 2.0 in order to acquire MySQL?
The linking exception or having to re-license MySQL are two of the options that Monty & Florian Mueller would like to see Oracle select before being allowed to acquire MySQL.
“Personally I don’t consider IBM a direct competitor to MySQL and thus there would not be a need for a licensing remedy…With MySQL, IBM would have a vehicle to become a market leader in databases. IBM could only do this if they keep MySQL free to ensure it keeps it dominant position in units…IBM has more to gain by keeping MySQL Open Source and available to all than they could get by killing it. With Oracle this is not the case.”
At first I bristled at this reply. Why should Oracle accept a set of restrictions that IBM, another competitor in the database market, would not face? However, the difference lies in the market position of the acquiring vendor. Oracle is the revenue leader in the relational database market with over 40 percent share according to Gartner and IDC. I don’t have the Gartner data handy, but IDC data suggests that Oracle had approximately a 2 to 1 lead versus IBM and Microsoft individually. Considering Oracle’s market position versus IBM and Microsoft, it’s understandable that regulators would treat an Oracle acquisition of MySQL differently than, for example a Microsoft or IBM acquisition of MySQL.
One thing that does surprise me, pleasantly, is that Monty doesn’t see a “need for a licensing remedy” should IBM (Fujitsu or any of the major Linux distribution vendors) acquire MySQL. Many have questioned Monty’s motives for blocking the MySQL acquisition. Monty’s company competes with MySQL, but, unlike MySQL, Monty’s company cannot provide a commercial license to business partners or enterprises. That’s why the linking exception or having to re-license MySQL under the Apache Software License 2.0 is seen as a boon to third party providers of MySQL products and services. Had Monty replied that he would like any potential acquirer of MySQL accept a licensing remedy, one could draw a connection back to his current business interests.
Readers can make up their own mind as to Monty’s or Oracle’s motives. But like most things in life, the story isn’t cut and dry. And while I personally believe there is more for Oracle to gain by nurturing MySQL than not, but Larry Ellison won’t return my calls.
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PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”