CyberTech Rambler

December 15, 2009

Is Oracle’s pledge for MySQL good enough?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:57 pm

Oracle has put up 10 pledges about MySQL. It looks to be well received by EC. Only time will tell whether it is enough.

You can say either Oracle blinked or its is part of its strategy in the negotiation with EC over its acquisition of MySQL. I think it is the latter. First Microsoft, now Oracle seems to think that they have to drive a hard bargain with EC instead of adopting more cooperative attitude.

[Totally out of topic : I once attended a negotiation course where I played the part of the regulator. I was pull aside by the lecturer who told me that I have to be more assertive and wave the veto power provided by the law more frequently. In my defense, as I said in the debriefing that follows, is that I do not really want to poison the atmosphere by being too agressive, I thought that the “English Style” of negotiation is less confrontational than normal and three, I was working on the assumption that everyone on the table knows that I have the veto and they have to satisfy me. But I do admit that I should had been more assertive, as it means we all spend less time pussy-footing around potential solutions.]

That pledge is not going to satisfy critics of the deal. One strange thing about the deal is the hard five years promise on MySQL, which this ComputerWorld article by Paul Meller points out to me. The fear here is Oracle run down MySQL. Nothing in the pledge says to me in unambiguious term that Oracle will develope MySQL constructively.. That is why initially I see it as simply a stay of execution.

The other initial reaction was that I would add an extra clause saying that Oracle must sell of MySQL as a viable business unit after five years if it does not want to keep it. Of course, I realize that a “viable business” is very difficult to define. Furthermore, if through no fault of Oracle, nobody wants MySQL in five years time, the clause would be unfair on Oracle.

After some thinking, I had the Eureka moment.  The five years Oracle proposed for the pledge should not be seen as a stay of execution, but a grace period for the user/developers who use MySQL to get their act together, either to prepare for a future without MySQL or to take over MySQL’s development from Oracle.

If I were EC, I think this is an acceptable solution. My goal is to make sure MySQL potential as Oracle’s competition will not be extinguish by Oracle’s acqusition. But at the same time, I am not here to dictate or enforce MySQL development. Forcing Oracle to continue developing MySQL allow others to behave like leeches.  Neither am I here to protect the interest of MySQL downstream developers. They made their bet on MySQL, and they will have to live with it, for better or worse. With Oracle’s to support MySQL for five years, what I do is to give everyone a chance to make decision on where they want to go. They want to steer MySQL’s development away from Oracle, they are free to. If they do nothing at the end of the five years, then they deserve to suffer the consequences.

This five years grace period is also the easiest to enforce and for someone who like the concept of a ‘free market’ , it is also philisophically speaking a neat solution: It is ‘light touch’ regulation, this give the market the lightest possible guiding hand and leaving most of the decision to the market.

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