Experts: Oracle and MySQL do not create a database monopoly

Open source MySQL widely used but lacks sales figures that interest regulators

Oracle Corp.'s US$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. will bring together the world's most valuable relational database with the most popular open source one -- MySQL.

Oracle reaped $22 billion in revenue from its namesake database between 2005-2007, which more than doubled the database sales of its next closest competitor, IBM, according to IDC.

Meanwhile, MySQL has been downloaded more than 100 million times, according to Sun. The company claims there are 70,000 MySQL downloads a day and 12 million MySQL databases in production. The database is actively running at Web 2.0 giants such as Google Inc., YouTube, Craigslist, Yahoo Inc. and Digg.

Should such numbers, combined with Oracle's significant base, draw the attention of government antitrust regulators? No, according to analysts and experts.

"Oracle is a powerhouse in database management systems, but it's hardly a monopolist," wrote analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research today. "I may well be overlooking something, but I haven't found a compelling antitrust trigger."

The deal "reduces competition in the database market by removing the threat of MySQL 'going up-market' from its base in Web applications to compete with Oracle's enterprise class database," said Roger Burkhardt, CEO of open-source database provider Ingres Corp. But even he conceded that the implications were not strong enough to raise the monopoly siren.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment on the issue. Of Oracle's chief competitors, Microsoft declined comment and IBM did not immediately return a request for comment.

Experts cite a plethora of reasons why the deal doesn't create a database monopoly.

For one, MySQL, despite its wild popularity, won't add much to Oracle's revenues.

Oracle reaped $8.34 billion from database sales in 2007, giving it 37.6% of the $22.2 billion global market, according to IDC. The 2008 figures are not yet available, IDC said.

MySQL's sales, meanwhile, were just $38 million in 2007, ranking it just 19th in the market, according to IDC. The open source database placed behind a plethora of unheralded database vendors, such as Siemens, Unisys, Hitachi, even Apple Inc., whose Filemaker personal database had triple MySQL's revenue.

"MySQL has a tremendous impact, but it's in a piece of the market where no money changes hands," said John Newton, CTO of Alfresco Software Inc., a maker of open-source content management software.

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Tags databasesOracleIBMSun MicrosystemsmysqlOracle-Sun merger

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Eric Lai

Computerworld
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