Tussle in Brussels: The EC’s Oracle-Sun Hearing, End Game
“Larry Ellison: We’re a big fan of open source–in fact, we’ve had the major transaction engine to MySQL–it’s something Oracle bought years ago and has invested in it to a higher level than it was invested in before. We believe in open source, we’re a huge supporter of Linux. MySQL and Oracle do not compete–at all….There’s a long list of database machines and database software we compete against–we never compete against MySQL. They’re both called databases, they address very different markets–furthermore, it’s open source.
Ed Zander: If they ask you to spin it off, will you?
EZ: If they told you to spin it off, would you?
LE: No. We’re not gonna spin it off. The U.S. government cleared this, we think the Europeans are gonna clear this, and we are not going to spin anything off.”
— Excerpt from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s September Churchill Club interview with former Sun CEO Ed Zander
Looks like Oracle has managed to ease European regulators’ antitrust concerns over its $7 billion acquisition of Sun–perhaps even enough for them to approve the thing.
This morning, Oracle (ORCL) and the European Commission both said they have had “constructive discussions” about the company’s plans for Sun (JAVA) and more specifically, its open-source MySQL database software.
Driving those discussions: A 10-point list of commitments from Oracle intended to ensure that MySQL will remain a competitive force in the database market. In the list, Oracle spells out plans for the database software, promising to boost spending on research and development, refrain from seeking commercial licenses from makers of MySQL storage engines and to establish a customer advisory board of MySQL users.
These concessions went over well with the EC, which is clearly warming to the idea of a Sun-Oracle union. “Today’s announcement by Oracle of a series of undertakings to customers, developers and users of MySQL is an important new element to be taken into account in the ongoing proceedings,” said the EC in its statement.
“In particular,” the EC continued, “Oracle’s binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to 5 years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial licenses are significant new facts.”
European Union regulators have until late January to make their decision.