What do MySQL staff think of the acquisition?

It finally dawned on me while reflecting on the year past this Sunday that the missing voice since the announcement of the Oracle acquisition of Sun Microsystems (and therefore MySQL) has been the MySQL employees.

When I worked as an employee for MySQL Inc, the acquisition by Sun Microsystems in 2008 lead to several requirements about the acquisition.

  • You were not allowed to talk about the acquisition publically.
  • You were not allowed to communicate with any Sun (i.e. the acquirer) resources.

In other words it was “business as usual” which is really an oxymoron, because business will never be exactly as it was before the announcement. The ongoing delay in pending acquisition by Oracle Corporation is really hurting everybody with getting on with doing their jobs, being happy with their work, and making a difference in open source and in the lives of all the benefit from using MySQL.

I’m sure many that have words to say are disappointed, worried or even fearful of their own future careers. Comments are always welcome via Mr Anonymous using 10 minute email.

The Oracle EU statement on MySQL – What's missing

Many providers embedd MySQL with their commercial products including Adobe, Macfee, Nokia, Symantec and ScienceLogic just to name a few. In addition most commercial third party storage engines have for years been forced to provided very customized versions of MySQL due to limitations in the storage engine API. These situations require a license agreement necessary with the trademark holder of MySQL. The Oracle Corporation EU Statement released on December 14, 2009 has carefully worded in the statement about these OEM licenses and storage engine providers there will be no changes for 5 years.

One specific detail is missing, what happens then?

As an individual that uses, recommends, promotes and advises clients especially on various storage engine offerings, I see the downstream effect of uncertainty for these providers can kill the entrepreneurial spirit that the economy desperately needs.

I see the possible impact as two fold. If company X that pays a license agreement is forced in 5 years to now pay say 3x the fee for example and cannot do so, the supplier chain is broken. What about companies that use the product from company X. Are they now liable with a cease and desist notice, therefore jeopardizing these businesses as well.

I see a further complexity in the agreement for storage engine providers. While there is a commitment to maintain the API, basically all storage engine providers don’t use the API, they have custom extensions and custom binaries essential for operation. The agreement makes specific reference to using the provided interfaces. Will the ability to provide heavily customized versions be permitted?

I’m not an expert in open source and commercial licenses and I am not a lawyer, however in the past I admit I may have been ignorant to the specifics that can affect the livelihood of many including myself.

As with any problem, I seek to have or find a solution. I am unclear here what options do exist, and would appreciate feedback.

Due to the anti competitive (*) nature of this resulting acquisition (#), should there be provisions to ensure unrestricted commercial licensing will always be available in the future regardless of time frame. Should limits on the amount of increase or change in license costs to a reasonable amount be enforced to protect companies.

It is most unclear about what will happen and this uncertainly I’m sure is affecting commercial interests.

Until this statement was released, the greatest fear in the MySQL community has been uncertainly. This statement does mention some details but the specifics of commercial business will never be known and therefore still affects us.

(*) Anti competitive nature. Contrary to statements by others, MySQL and Oracle are competitors in the relational database space. While generally they service different spectrums, there is sufficient overlap. As an expert and speaker in Oracle to MySQL migrations I clearly see the competition with these products. For example, while I will never purchase a Ferrari over a Holden for example due to cost and desirable but unnecessary features, they are still both cars and are competitors in their respective industry, the same applies to Oracle and MySQL.

(#) It is important to realize that Oracle is not acquiring MySQL directly. Oracle is acquiring Sun Microsystems which includes Sun hardware platform, the Solaris Operating System and Java which I’m sure are the primary motivations. MySQL is included as it is now owned by Sun Microsystems, and this is the current issue.