May 7, 2008

What Else *Would* Oracle Say?

This just in. In a long interview on Linux Voices, Oracle's Linux architect Edward Screven comments on the MySQL/Sun acquisition.

...we just don’t care. I mean, we don’t see MySQL very often, again, in competitive deals. It’s out there, but it’s not very often that a database sales rep comes back and says, “I had to compete for the business against MySQL.”

To be fair the question is about how the MySQL acquisition affects Linux. But it seems really hard to believe Oracle does not care about MySQL. This is the same company that bought InnoDB. There is no doubt that Oracle is watching developments at Sun very carefully. The interesting problem for Oracle is not simply that Sun now has MySQL. It is that Sun owns or backs a portfolio of open source databases. And there are plenty of companies besides Sun that are working to make those databases full-featured, highly available, and very scalable. Like my company, Continuent, for example.

With a small number of additional acquisitions, Sun could control the open source end of the market fully. Now that has to be a little disquieting.


Sheeri K. Cabral said...

Whether or not he intended to, Screven used an old trick of interviewing -- "don't answer the question you're asked, answer the question you want to have been asked."

His answer is the answer to the question "how does Sun buying MySQL affect Oracle's sales?"

And the answer is the right one -- MySQL isn't a competitor to Oracle, it gives people who can't use Oracle (ie, can't afford it or can't understand how to use the express edition) a database they can use.

That's like saying a ramp competes with stairs -- some people may use the ramp even though they could use stairs, but both are ways to go up and down, and for the most part the ramp is there to help people get themselves and perhaps heavy object up and down more easily than stairs.

Robert Hodges said...

It's probably quite true the Sun acquisition has had little impact on Oracle sales. However, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Oracle does not care. That was my real point.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, having a bigger company backing MySQL will help some organizations over the hump to start moving licenses to MySQL or at least not buying more new Oracle licenses. I have talked to a reasonable number of customers who either are doing this or thinking of it so it's definitely a consideration, however marginal in the near term.

Second, there's the "run the table" strategy I mentioned in my previous post. This is a market strategy that could be quite disruptive if Sun chose to move in that direction. At the very least it would get a lot of CIOs to rethink their plans, which would not be good for Oracle quarterly numbers.

So maybe the answer is that Oracle hopes it does not care.