Oracle's Sun merger raises questions over MySQL, antitrust

Today's announcement that Oracle will buy Sun for $7.4 billion has surprised both analysts and industry observers.

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Today's announcement that Oracle will buy Sun for $7.4 billion has surprised both analysts and industry observers.

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathon SchwartzDuring the April 20 conference call with investors, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison highlighted Sun's two key assets: Java and the Solaris operating system as being "instrumental" in Oracle's decision to buy the firm.

But the call left questions over other product lines, such as Sun's popular open source database MySQL, which competes with Oracle's flagship Database 11g product.

Phil Dawson, Gartner's VP of research, said MySQL would be attractive to Oracle as it would round out its product offering. "Oracle always wanted an entry level low-end database to complement its enterprise offering," he said.

"This should be the final blow to the myth that open source is free. Open source is commercial, as soon as open source is in production, there is a need for support contracts and licences for it. Larry Ellison will make money from the acquisition."

"MySQL is not going away," said Forrester analyst James Kobielus. "That's one of the key assets Oracle is buying here, and they know it."

But Glyn Moody predicted a bleaker outcome for MySQL. "There is no way that Oracle will promote MySQL heavily. At best it will become the low-end alternative for customers who moan that the main Oracle database offering is too costly."

Instead of promoting MySQL, Oracle's aim will be to "throttle the upstart pretender to the throne in order to protect the reigning monarch" said Moody.

Om Malik on GigaOm agrees. “MySQL is clearly a big prize for Oracle” as the database vendor has taken out its number one threat.