MySQL cofounder says Oracle should sell database

The MySQL database needs a home where there will be no conflicts of interest, he says

Oracle should resolve antitrust concerns over its acquisition of Sun Microsystems by selling open-source database MySQL to a suitable third party, its cofounder and creator Michael "Monty" Widenius said in a blog post on Monday.

Oracle's US$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun is currently being held up by an investigation by the European Commission.

The Commission's main concern seems to be MySQL, which was acquired by Sun in January 2008 for US$1 billion.

A takeover by the world's leading proprietary database company of the world's leading open source database company compels the regulator to closely examine the effects on the European market, according to remarks made by Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes last month.

The European Union's antitrust regulator is absolutely right to be concerned about Oracle taking over MySQL, according to Widenius, who left Sun in February.

MySQL needs a different home than Oracle, a home where there will be no conflicts of interest concerning how, or if, MySQL should be developed further, Widenius wrote. His company, Monty Program AB, is developing MariaDB, a branch of MySQL.

The key objective is to find a home outside Oracle for MySQL where the database can be developed and compete with existing products, including Oracle's, according to Florian Mueller, a former MySQL shareholder who is currently working with Monty Program AB on this matter.

However, Oracle still seems intent on keeping MySQL. The company plans to increase its investment in the open source MySQL database, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said at last week's OpenWorld 2009 conference.

If Ellison changed his mind and decided to sell MySQL, open source companies like Red Hat and Novell would be on top of the list of potential buyers, according to Bo Lykkegaard, software analyst at IDC.

Widenius didn't elaborate on whom he considers a suitable third party or if he would be among them.

A perspective buyer should have both technical competence and large resources, and no conflicts of interest, according to Mueller.

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