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EC Formally Objects To Oracle's Purchase of Sun 334

Posted by kdawson
from the bringing-about-the-most-feared-outcome dept.
eldavojohn writes "The EC has presented Oracle and Sun with a statement of objections. Despite the promotion of former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, the statement seems to focus entirely on what many have feared: MySQL vs. Oracle databases. From Sun's 8-K SEC filing: 'The Statement of Objections sets out the Commission's preliminary assessment regarding, and is limited to, the combination of Sun's open source MySQL database product with Oracle's enterprise database products and its potential negative effects on competition in the market for database products.' The EU and the EC are getting a rep for disagreeing with US counterparts." On Monday afternoon the DoJ reiterated its support for the deal. Matthew Aslett has a helpful timeline of the action from the EC.
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EC Formally Objects To Oracle's Purchase of Sun

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  • I Object! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @05:28PM (#30051764) Homepage
    Well, I'd object to their purchasing the sun as well!!
  • What is the EC?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) acts as an executive of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union.

  • EC objects? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What do DC and Marvel think?

  • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @05:38PM (#30051920) Homepage
    Just spin it off, keep a small interest that will prevent the spun-off unit from going rogue, and claim victory.

    I seriously don't see why Oracle needs MySQL.

    • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:13PM (#30052434)

      I seriously don't see why Oracle needs MySQL.

      Frankly, Ellisons refusal to spin it off is the strongest indication that the purpose of acquiring MySQL as part of the deal is anti-competitive. As you say, it's not as if Oracle really needs it, so it shouldn't be this much of an issue.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I understand (dimly) that MySQL has myriad failings, but it's possible that clustered databases are going to be "THE FUTURE" ... not that they will replace all types of database service, nor that they should, nor even that all the monolithic RDBMSes which will be replaced with clusters should be... but I should think that Oracle has something to fear from MySQL clustering. It will serve many needs where Oracle was formerly the only credible player, just as MySQL has long been replacing the use of various co

        • by Macka (9388)

          That's my take on this too. With MySQL Clustering you can start small and cheap, then scale out later to levels of performance (and resilience) that leave Oracle RAC in the dust. Use a consistent hashing algorithm on the app server tier that includes node weighting and you can happily mix DB servers with different performance characteristics, making good use of more powerful servers as they're released. Oracle strongly recommend that all nodes in a RAC cluster look and function the same which is a bit re

        • And what advantages does MySQL has over Oracle when it comes to clustering?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hasai (131313)

        Frankly, Ellisons refusal to spin it off is the strongest indication that the purpose of acquiring MySQL as part of the deal is anti-competitive. As you say, it's not as if Oracle really needs it, so it shouldn't be this much of an issue.

        ACK. I've been smelling "turn it into a parking lot" from Day One on this.

      • You may be right, but don't discount the possibility that Ellison just doesn't want to be told what to do.

    • by NoYob (1630681) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:15PM (#30052472)

      I seriously don't see why Oracle needs MySQL.

      Product mix - as the marketing guys call it. MySQL has a market that Oracle doesn't. How many folks use Oracle as their back end for their websites? Now they have products that cover more of the market for RDMSs; which I believe, makes them the leader, but by no means able to control the market as the EC fears.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        MySQL has a market that Oracle doesn't.

        People who don't want to pay for a database. What if Microsoft bought Sun? Would Star/OpenOffice be classified as being in a different market as MSOffice?

    • As a marketing strategy. See, it seems most people when needing an so-easy-to-use-a-caveman-can-do-it DB server, they choose MySQL. Sometimes it is used in a small project that grows well beyond its britches. Since MySQL is more or less just a front end to a pluggable back end storage system, then those folks who find themselves with such a project can go from MySQL->MySQL with "dependable" Oracle backend->Oracle.
    • by Korin43 (881732)
      The best part of all this is that if it doesn't go through, Oracle could just buy all of Sun except for MySQL, leaving it to die..
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by idontgno (624372)

      Car analogy warning!

      The same reason that GM made and sold compacts and even when they wanted everyone to buy uber SUVs: if you won't buy the soccer-mom-battleship, maybe you'll buy their smaller vehicle.

      Even Oracle (in its dark, festering, inner heart-of-hearts) realizes that not every DBMS installation needs Oracle 13qq UnrealMegaApplicationHyperClustering (tm). MySQL is the foot in the door. If you'll buy the GM compact car now, it's more likely you'll buy the GM RoadWhale later when you become a fat exur

    • Just spin it off, keep a small interest that will prevent the spun-off unit from going rogue, and claim victory.

      Does MySQL own the IP for a test suite that proves compatibility with the standard, such as Java does? Just curious here, don't really know.

      On the other hand, Open or not, there are ways you can capitalise on IP by diminishing its impact in the market. Gentle, persistent, overtly benign yet pernicious change will do it. The principle of "extend, embrace, extinguish" isn't just limited to one monopoly.

      And here I worry about Jim Fisk's ghost buying up the equivalent of today's Red Car line (ref: Chinatown,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's see...MySQL brings in ~50M a year, Sun is losing 100M a month. Makes no sense why Oracle would want to delay, except for monopolistic reasons.

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:26PM (#30052626) Homepage

      Let's see...MySQL brings in ~50M a year, Sun is losing 100M a month. Makes no sense why Oracle would want to delay, except for monopolistic reasons.

      Last I heard, Oracle doesn't want to delay. It's the European Commission that wants to delay Oracle.

      As for "monopolistic reasons": Between IBM, Microsoft, Teradata, PostgreSQL, etc, how can Oracle possibly be said to have a monopoly on databases?

      You seem to be suggesting that Oracle wants to destroy the market for MySQL. As the largest database vendor in the world, how does it benefit Oracle to destroy any market for databases, however large or small?

      And that's assuming it's even possible for Oracle to do what you suggest. Even if the goal is merely to destroy the market for low-cost databases, I don't see how Oracle could do that. There is no shortage of low-cost (free) alternatives to MySQL -- PostgreSQL, Firebird, SQLite, the list goes on.

      If Oracle doesn't immediately cave in to the European Commission, have you considered the possibility that it might be because Oracle plans to grow the MySQL market, and that even at $100 million/month, it has not yet sacrificed enough profit to make up for all the money it plans to make from MySQL in the coming years?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)

        As for "monopolistic reasons": Between IBM, Microsoft, Teradata, PostgreSQL, etc, how can Oracle possibly be said to have a monopoly on databases?

        The job of the EC anti-trust commission is to prevent monopolies before they happen, not punish them when they do (the way the Sherman act works in the US). So their fear is not that Oracle would be a monopoly, but that it comes too close to being able to corner the market. You don't need a monopoly for that, just a commanding influence.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @05:41PM (#30051958)
    Oracle is marketed as an high-end database product/set of services. MySql is a low-end one (and please, don't misinterpret this as shot against it). Now, I'm not saying that you won't find companies replacing their Oracle database with a MySql one, but those are very few and far between. Between Oracle and MySql, there are actually quite of slew of decent alternatives (both proprietary and open source).
    • by dbarclay10 (70443)
      "MySql is a low-end [DB]" ... "[some] companies replacing their Oracle database with a MySql one, but those are very few and far between"

      And you can be pretty bloody sure that if Oracle owns MySQL, that'll never change. :)
    • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:26PM (#30052624) Homepage Journal

      MySql is a low-end one (and please, don't misinterpret this as shot against it).

      But MySQL is low end. It's about as low end as you can go without using MS Access.

      Is it a shot against it if what you're saying is true?

    • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:38PM (#30052762)

      I think Oracle's target market are the web 2.0 cowboys who originally went with MySQL, grew up and realized they needed something more robust, and are currently tied to MySQL because those other alternatives would break their extremely MySQL-specific code. If Oracle can provide a flawless backwards compatibility layer for MySQL, they'd have an edge over the other guys.

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @05:45PM (#30052018)

    As I remember it (and I could be remembering it wrong), Sirrus and XM were allowed to merge because the likelihood of both companies continuing without a merger were essentially nil.

    Would the EU perform a similar analysis on Sun and figure that, given its situation, the option is either merge with Oracle or go bankrupt, in which case the situation is, conceptually, the same because either way Sun ceases to be a player. Or do they not consider this and simply line up the bullet points, see too much overlap, say no to the merger (which is not the same as an objection, I realize), and just hope that Sun can pull it together by itself?

    • by vlm (69642)

      As I remember it (and I could be remembering it wrong), Sirrus and XM were allowed to merge because the likelihood of both companies continuing without a merger were essentially nil.

      Neither Sirius nor XM could merge while spinning off one of their satellite radio operations into a new company, to maintain a "semi-free market" or a "free-er market".

      It would be trivial to sell off mysql. Heck, give it away. Sell it to the FSF for $1?

    • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:03PM (#30052266)

      the option is either merge with Oracle or go bankrupt

      If Sun goes into reorganization or liquidation assets like MySQL would probably be sold off and Oracle would likely be blocked as a buyer of MySQL, so the EC's main objection would be resolved in an acceptable fashion either way. The purpose of government in a competitive free market should be exactly that; prevent anticompetitive behaviour and structures, not support failing companies.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      As I remember it (and I could be remembering it wrong), Sirrus and XM were allowed to merge because the likelihood of both companies continuing without a merger were essentially nil.

      Would the EU perform a similar analysis on Sun and figure that, given its situation, the option is either merge with Oracle or go bankrupt...

      First of all, Sirius/XM (AFAIK) doesn't broadcast in Europe.

      Second, the Europeans and the USA have differing philosophies when it comes to anti-trust regulation.
      America's philosophy is to protect the competitive process & competitors.
      The Europeans' goal is to protect the competitive process & consumer welfare.
      So to directly respond to your question, the Europeans would perform the analysis and not have any qualms allowing Sun to fail.

      As an aside, when Sirius and XM originally got their satellite rad

      • by Ironsides (739422)
        How does letting a company fail, instead of being bought out by a competitor, protect consumer welfare? Either way there is one less player in the market.
      • by AlXtreme (223728)

        As an aside, when Sirius and XM originally got their satellite radio licenses
        from the FCC, it included a requirement that the two companies never merge.
        In America, the companies merged. In Europe, one of them would have been allowed to fail.

        Or they would have had to hand in one of their licenses, which sounds like the more logical solution.

        There are other solutions than either merging or 'allowing to fail'. MySQL could be spun off as a separate business, or could be sold to another company.

        Anti-competitive

      • "The Europeans' goal is to protect the competitive process & consumer welfare."

        You mean like requiring MS to offer a version of Windows without a browser?

    • Company health? Either way, Sun is dead if this deal goes through--Oracle merely wants dibs on the corpse. They will scavenge what they can, and sell off the rest or simply let it rot.

      Sun has some very cool hardware and software, not to mention an open source friendly attitude--probably none of which will survive the acquisition. I would rather see Sun struggling to survive than on the chopping block for a company like Oracle. I can't imagine that OpenSolaris, ZFS, Sparc, VirtualBox, Java, MySQL, or anythin

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      Mysql did very well on it's own, Sun on the other hand is a train wreck. Simple answer is to spin off Mysql.
  • by rcolbert (1631881) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:01PM (#30052248)
    This is somewhat like preventing Mercedes-Benz from buying Kia in order to prevent a monopoly. As well-stated earlier, Oracle doesn't compete against MySQL often if at all. IBM and Microsoft appear to be the most legitimate competition Oracle has in their DBMS space, and MySQL wouldn't seem to impact the competitive balance all that much. Having said that, who would want MySQL? Cisco, HP, and EMC don't seem like good choices because they all have product families that each would hate to have to tie to a 'Runs Best with MySQL' campaign. Red Hat makes sense from a certain point of view, but I'm not sure they want to diversify into the DBMS space.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mbrod (19122)
      I see many people, you included, thinking of this in terms of what MySQL is now. It would be terribly short sighted for every merger and acquisition evaluated by the appropriate regulatory bodies to look at it in that way. They need to look at in terms of what MySQL could grow in to. What MySQL could grow in to is what Oracle would compete with. Which is why Oracle wants to squash it and eat it. EC is right on and will stop this.
  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:14PM (#30052444)

    IBM may be doing what they can to stir the pot on this. With each delay, Sun's survival is more in question, and more business can be sucked away from Sun by IBM.

    The objection (that Oracle will have "control" of an Open Source product like MySQL) is absolutely absurd. First of all, there is nothing Oracle can do to prevent others from continuing to update and support MySQL under GPL. Many Open Source projects continue under GPL. MySQL has a huge "out of Oracle's reach" GPL effort already.

    Secondly, the database market is dynamic with many new competitors entering the field. MySQL as a relational database faces competition from a host of nonSQL databases whose performance and capacity relational databases cannot match.

    The real problem with the merger is politics for profit and spite. Heaven forbid the EU allows two American companies to merge. The EU likes to keep their own mergers to a minimum .... like with Airbus?

  • A Rep? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theillien (984847) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:22PM (#30052566)
    According to the article the last time the EU/EC contravened a takeover was when they denied General Electric's takeover of Honeywell in 2001. I'd hardly call two denials in a decade a reputation for disagreeing with the US on these matters.
  • Good Business (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Virtucon (127420)

    Oracle is pursuing a very good business model with the Sun aquisition.

    1) Eliminate somebody else from buying them, like IBM.
    2) Get all that neat Java stuff
    3) Some hardware engineering but that SPARC stuff really isn't competitive.
    4) Get MySQL and finally kill it by letting it wither. MySQL is probably the biggest threat right now to Oracle's dominance in the database marketplace. My controlling
    it they can drive the software literally into the ground.

    It was a $7B bargain.

    • Re:Good Business (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:33PM (#30052722)

      If you think MySQL is any threat to Oracle, then you don't understand anything about the commercial database market.

      • According to MySQL's site, Oracle and MySQL comprise around 52% of the of all deployed databases [mysql.com]. If you don't understand that authorizing a deal which would enable a company which already controls 47% of the market share [computerworld.com] to form a company that controls such a dominant stake in the database market is bad for the market then you would most certainly benefit from investing a couple of minutes thinking about this subject.
    • Re:Good Business (Score:4, Informative)

      by swordgeek (112599) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @06:53PM (#30052952) Journal

      "Some hardware engineering but that SPARC stuff really isn't competitive."

      Really?

      How much do you know about "that SPARC stuff?" It's true that x86 has finally surpassed a lot of the things that Sparc led the way in, but there are still ways that traditional Sparc scales better.

      Now moving to the next generation of Sun's gear, we have hardware virtualisation and CoolThreads. Under a hundred grand will buy you a system with four 8-core CPUs, and each core can process eight simultaneous threads. That is OLTP nirvana! Too much power? Chop it up into a handful of smaller servers, each running their own OS. Any one of them can in turn be split into zones--soft OS partitions.

      I keep hearing about how Sparc is obsolete, and yet the new generation of Sparc processors and supporting hardware is pushing the state of the art that Intel and AMD aren't even planning in yet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bertok (226922)

        "Some hardware engineering but that SPARC stuff really isn't competitive."

        Really?

        How much do you know about "that SPARC stuff?" It's true that x86 has finally surpassed a lot of the things that Sparc led the way in, but there are still ways that traditional Sparc scales better.

        Now moving to the next generation of Sun's gear, we have hardware virtualisation and CoolThreads. Under a hundred grand will buy you a system with four 8-core CPUs, and each core can process eight simultaneous threads. That is OLTP nirvana! Too much power? Chop it up into a handful of smaller servers, each running their own OS. Any one of them can in turn be split into zones--soft OS partitions.

        I keep hearing about how Sparc is obsolete, and yet the new generation of Sparc processors and supporting hardware is pushing the state of the art that Intel and AMD aren't even planning in yet.

        Umm... what?

        First of all, for "a hundred grand", I can buy 10 systems that add up to 80 Intel 3Ghz cores (160 threads) with 720GB of memory, which is going to shit all over that SUN box with its anemic 1Ghz processors. That's retail pricing, in Aussie dollars! Including tax! Delivered to your door in under a week, assembled!

        Meanwhile, to get that SUN box, I'd have to "call your nearest SUN dealer". Oh good, I can't wait to have him explain to me how spending $100K is going to "save me money", or something.

        I

    • by int69h (60728)

      http://blogs.sun.com/BestPerf/entry/tpc_c_world_record_sun [sun.com]

      That non-competitive SPARC stuff recently trounced IBM and HP in performance/dollar, performance/watt and performance/rack. I'd hate to see what you define as competitive.

      • It's like Gordon Brown at No. 10.

        Doesn't matter, until the situation changes. Who would invest? I say that as a shareholder.

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