back to article EU officially objects to Sunacle deal

The European Union has officially raised objection to Oracle's proposed $7.4bn acquisition of Sun Microsystems. According to a Sun Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the EU issued a "statement of objections" involving the merger today, and these objections were limited to concerns over Oracle acquiring MySQL. "The …


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  1. Jeremy Chappell


    OK, normally I'd not say this, but how stupid is the EU? Perhaps Sun should just dump MySQL (the name) and fork to project. This is seriously bad news for Sun.

  2. Lars Silver badge

    open source cannot be controlled!

    "because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone"

    Nice myth, but for MySQL customers (with a contract, mainly) it is not enough, it is only a myth.

    As far as I understand the EU has only asked for a "written" statement bye Oracle about its intentions concerning MySQL.

    A bit fishy (and arrogant) that they refuse to produce one.

    And once again this referring to the US "God".

    "After conducting a careful investigation of the proposed transaction between Oracle and Sun, the Department's Antitrust Division concluded that the merger is unlikely to be anticompetitive," the DoJ said."

  3. Max 6


    I guess Sun can't even manage a buyout without failing.

    If they are this bad about execution, I wonder how they'd handle a bankruptcy. What do you do with a company that cannot even succeed @ fail?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not that straightforward

    The objection is not a surprise. Oracle don't just get the MySQL codebase. They get the strong MySQL brand, they get a tactical win against Microsoft, they get access to a huge developer community, they get access to a product which sits very well in the massively growing web app space, and they get a strategy for re-positioning the Oracle product as a higher end sell.

    Saying 'fork the code' is missing the point. A forked product (and it's already happening) would gain momentum but would have to build up its brand and awareness from nothing. If anything that plays to Oracle and allows them to position a complete back-end to middle-tier solution, which thus doesn't alleviate any anti-competitive objections.

    Oracle wants the matter closed quickly and cleanly as competitors are playing on the uncertaintly around it. I predict a push by Oracle to retain the current MySQL product and implement a scaling licensing model to ensure it's sufficiently differentiated from both the free product and their enterprise product.

  5. gollux

    Sun hit, trailing SPARCs

    SPARC International out looking for domain names of operations like SparkFun to pad its intellectual property.

  6. Alex 76

    Pissing Contest

    Looks like the EU and Oracle is in a old fashioned pissing contest... To bad its over a database that generates a a piddly 200million in revenue a year. When there's a 10billion dollar company with employee's and customers at stake.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bravo for EU commisson and mrs. Kroes

    EU's mrs Kroes actually may be the only one that can really make MySQL survive. Oracle's position that MySQL does not compete with Oracle's DB market is utter nonense for two reasons:

    - there have been many projects in which Oracle's DB lost out to MySQL; so there is a market segment where they do compete

    - Oracle's defense is that MySQL is open source/free and so does not compete with Oracle; they conveniently forget that it does by definition compete with their own free Oracle Express DB

    If Oracle wants to have Sun, fine - if they insist that MySQL cannot be controlled because it's open source, allright, let them have Sun without MySQL, and see how much is left of Oracle's desire to acquire Sun without MySQL.

    Nobody of the people I've spoken to with practical knowledge of the situation believes Oracle in this regard - they all agree that Oracle has EVERY interest to hinder MySQL's progress to limit its potential to destroy Oracle DB sales - which it obviously already does.

  8. Macka

    Oracle smoke and mirrors

    As has been pointed out elsewhere: MySQL is open source and can be forked, but no fork would be allowed to bear the MySQL name, or even contain that name because Oracle would still be the copyright holder. Any fork would take years to regain the mindshare and marketshare that MySQL enjoys today, so Oracle's argument here is smoke and mirrors. In addition I dispute that MySQL doesn't compete with Oracle, it does, it just does it differently. It doesn't use shared storage with DLM as Oracle does with RAC, but instead makes use of replication and sharding. For many applications this is a better solution than RAC, as it enables the customer to start small and cheap, but grow and scale out later to a level of resilience and performance that extends way beyond RAC's reach at a massively reduced cost. With the right packaging and marketing, I believe that MySQL has the functionality and potential today to hit Oracle's business a lot harder than it is doing. I believe that Oracle know this, and want very much to control MySQL to make sure that never ever happens. The EU are right to put a block on this, and should hold out until Oracle is forced to drop MySQL from the deal.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Plain and Simple: the EU is protecting SAP --- an Oracle Competitor.

  10. sean oneill
    Thumb Up

    Finally. That's it?

    As a Sun employee all I can say is finally. Here we are sitting in November for a deal announced in April? This is what you are concerned about? MySQL? $330M of revenue for a $7.5B deal? 4%? Can the rest the company get on with selling Java, Identity, servers, storage, etc.? Sun is so much more than MySQL. The "competition council" of the EU is pissing away our hard earned market because narcissistic Nellie Kroes worries 10 years in the future the database market may be affected? She and the rest of her bureaucratic wonks have now shown they have absolutely no idea how the software market works nor how the open software model can benefit from Oracle's assistance. Open source is a disruptive model; but that is why it is the future. The EC's competition council's weak gamesmanship will be regarded as the biggest threat to the open source market when reviewed by history. Just as open source is beginning to be accepted by mainstream enterprise customers, these Luddites threaten to kill the open source market by scaring anyone away who might considered it as an option to proprietary software. Nobody can put Open Source software into production without someone with some real one-throat-to-choke credentials sitting on the other end of a support line. If this deal folds, nobody, but nobody, will try to go the open source route for main stream software ever.

    Hold fast Oracle. Though we are not part of you yet, I admire your logic in standing up to yet another government body pretending to know whats good for the market. We look forward to joining a team than stands up to a ship of fools.

  11. Andy Dent 2

    EU understands GPL

    GPL is not Open Source it is a subset of Open Source.

    The Oracle argument only holds up if Sun first release MySQL under a different license which allows commercial reuse of a fork without GPL viral restrictions or commercial penalties.

  12. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik


    @sean oneil

    Sorry to hear that but yes the market in 10 years time is what it is all about. And it would take an Oracle lawyer 30 minutes to prepare a statement that would actually help this move along.

    @Andy Dent 2

    WTH are you talking about?

    GPL is Free Software( and Open Source( license. It is the main license of both since the start.

    Please get your facts straight before spewing such nonsense. Unless you're one of those commercial entities that see Open Source only as free thing for "us to take and abuse" in that case please go crawl into a hole and wither away.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    the wrong concern

    Hard to believe that the EC is worried about MySQL, but isn't worried that by blocking the merger that Sun is likely to go bust.

    My company was asked by the EC for our views on the merger. We replied that MySQL was a very minor concern compared to the prospect of Sun continuing to wither away while the EC dithers. WTF happens to our sizeable estate of Sun hardware and software then Neelie? And everyone elses?

  14. Neal 5

    @sean oneill, etal

    Firstly Sean you are so correct, but also like everyone else, so wrong.

    et al.

    The blinkered approach that Oracle and Sun are the only database providers is wrong, even for the American market alone, but they are two of the biggest players, the match between them would be fine. In many other mergers/acquisitions, to comply with anti-competition laws, trade offs have to be made. If as so many of you see it as Suns only advantage to Oracle is mySQL, then allow the sale on condition of the shedding of mySQL to someone else, I'm sure a $300mn business like mySQL will find it's own buyer, without any detriment to either Sun or Oracle.

    Even to satisfy the EU commissioners, who actually are correct in this case, a european buyer for mySQL could be an option.

    Sun/Oracle is the way forward for both, mySQL is and will be only a minor stumbling block, neither the American markets, or the European markets will benefit from the failure of this deal.

  15. phoenix

    @AC 03:43

    Nope we don't like that much either over here. Protectionism we leave to the US. Look at all the DoJ rullings that went MS's way.

  16. Gulfie

    @Sean O'Neill

    While I feel for Sun and their employees (Java has made me a good living these last ten years) this was an entirely predictable situation that Oracle should have foreseen and could have defused very quickly. Except that they don't want to.

    I couldn't find anybody who disagreed with my view that the Sun take-over was probably good for Java but definitely bad news for MySQL. I still can't. I'm talking developers, architects, technical management and consultants. I still can't.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Andy Dent is totally correct. A great deal of use cases will be impossible with the current mysql open source license. If they release under something less restrictive a fork could be commercially viable. And we have seen that without enough commercial support/interest, there cannot be enough horsepower to move such a big project ahead (at least haven't seen such thing).

  18. Macka
    Thumb Down

    @sean oneill

    "If this deal folds, nobody, but nobody, will try to go the open source route for main stream software ever" - What a load of FUD. $330M of revenue is chump change to Oracle. If that's all that's holding this deal up then they should drop MySQL and get on with it. The fact they aren't doing and are willing to allow SUN to haemorrhage in the process speaks volumes for their real motives. Oracle see a chance to kill off some competition now and ward off an even bigger threat in the future. Nellie Kroes - far from being a narcissistic wonk - is more switched on to what's going on here than you give credit for. If you really value your job and the health of your company you should be encouraging Oracle to drop MySQL so you can "get on with selling Java, Identity, servers, storage, etc" while you still have a customer base that cares.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    EU just can't get it right

    Am I the only one who sees a bit of OS hyprocrisy here?

    After hearing for years about the benefits of "open" source, no vendor lock-in, etc, it seems that the main objections to the Oracle takeover are:

    a) there actually would be vendor lock-in, because (stupid) customers wouldn't go for a (non-Oracle) GPL fork from MySQL.

    b) MySQL has been licensed under a variety of non-GPL terms that can't be forked - which implies that GPL is much too limiting in practice for many commercial applications (hence the use of non-GPL terms).

    This would actually be a really good test case for the OS model - allow the deal to go ahead, and see what happens to MySQL. I don't think that you can go on treating it with kid gloves, special favours etc for ever. Indeed, I think that things would turn out OK, which paradoxically means that I have more confidence in the OS model than many of its leading advocates.

    On the other hand, I don't have much confidence in the EU bureaucrats. In the 90s, the competition law people went on an extended holiday - e.g ignoring everything that MS did. Now they've swung to the opposite extreme, no doubt worried about preserving their own jobs over those in the real world.

  20. InsaneGeek

    Don't compete against each other..

    That is the most telling statement to me, it shows that MySQL under Oracle would never be allowed to compete with their Oracle DB. While MySQL isn't a feature competitor against Oracle today, people have been working on it, Oracle is basically broadcasting that MySQL under them would not be allowed to grow into a feature-full DB and keep them in a "different" market.

  21. genericallyloud

    I agree with AC about OS hypocrisy

    While I don't like that MySQL is potentially getting acquired by Oracle in this deal, I think that open source advocates should stand by their convictions. People who are not open source advocates may have a legitimate problem here, but the OS community should take this as an opportunity to prove their case for OS. What about rallying around postgresql? They're under BSD license so the whole commercial problem is solved. What about taking aim at the "no-sql future". You really want to compete with Oracle 10 years from now, try supporting hbase or hypertable or something.

    If MySQL gets killed off without a successful fork it will be a loss to the open source community, but not without its lessons learned.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    MySQL is dead... So long and thanks for all the fish.

    I'm still confused that out of all the products, MySQL seems to be the hurdle. Seriously. What is the EU smoking?

    I don't see how MySQL can survive if the EU won't let it stay. I don't see anyone willing to pay much for MySQL, let alone the absurd amount Sun paid. So it will get tossed aside and ignored. The best chance for it to grow would have been to have Oracle add to it. And for all the hassle it's causing on the merger, if I was Ellison, I'd make it my mission to kill MySQL if I had to dump it at this point in time... Yes, it will continue to be developed by the community, but needs the backing of a company with revenue to actively add functionality to be able to compete with the big boys that the EU seems to think it already competes with. Good thing I'm not a user of MySQL...

  23. Anonymous Coward


    EU Government Thinking --- Duhhh... a company owning MySQL brand is going out of business... it is a risk to the market if that company which is going out of business is purchased by someone else... duhhh.... that asset helped the company going out of business so much.... duhhh....

  24. Anonymous Coward

    serious attitude problem.

    the usual oracle issue. or rather, ellison issue.

    you can't run a business telling the largest, most stable economy in this world they are too stupid to understand something, true or not.

    if oracle was serious about freeing mysql, they should opensource innoDB; which they are not going to do.

    don't worry about sun dying. they are dead already.


  25. Anonymous Coward

    What are the objections exactly?

    It's hard to form an opinion about the EU concerns without seeing them spelled out.

    Does anyone have a link to the Competition Commissioner's Statement of Objections ?


  26. Jason Togneri


    What, never having to deal with the crap of MySQL ever again and being forced to push developers onto other database platforms such as postgresql with its sane and ASCII-correct SQL database format!? No, for the love of God, EU, please stop MySQL from dying, we can't have that sort of thing going on!

    As for any potential fork, I can just see it being called TheirSQL. OurSQL? TheirSQL? Hmm. UrSQL?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Sun is a diaster and Larry is a arrogant ass

    It's Larry's own fault that Sun is in a death march. MySQL is worth about $10B in opportunity loss to Oracle there is no way they will spin that off.

    Look at how much a failure Oracle Linux is....they want the same success for MySQL.

    Look out SAP....Oracle owns you once they own Java.

    This is either the smartest thing Larry has done or the dumbest...but then again there is no penalty for Oracle to back off on the deal...only Sun has a penalty.

    T2+ has horrible oracle performance...please buy T5440's so Oracle revenue can increase.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People who complain about government intervention...

    ... are only whining when the government does not follow their own little private interests.

    If there were no government intervention at all, like they believe they want, Sun would be dead long ago, since Intel would have killed AMD.

    Or would have never existed in the first place, since AT&T would never had been split up, either.

    Well, I already knew Sun didn't only employ smart people, I've been in touch with their salespeople. Sometimes. When they could be bothered.

  29. asdf

    usual EU vs USA bias up in here

    The geographic rivalry bullcrap is all window dressing as all these companies are very transnational. I agree Sun badly wants to gimp MySQL and it is obvious that they are willing to destroy SUN to do so (getting to be a mercy killing at this point). I never understood the hardon for MySQL in the first place except that web developers are basically the bottom of the barrel developer wise (sorry graphic artists learning a little bit of javascript does not make you a software developer) and it was the only free database they could understand (also reason worthless no security flash is so prevalent). Don't blame the EU for killing SUN, SUNs management did that long ago.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Where will you be at on Thanksgiving?

    I will be at home with family watching football having a few beers.

    Larry will be on a plane back from begging the EU to let me kill MySQL which is the only real threat to his business.

    Or will Larry not even show and send is Israeli again? I thinks its Charles' turn.

    Enjoy the begging. I am hoping this gets done so the ten thousand layoffs happen asap and I can take my package to leave for a real hardware company.

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