ERP vendor offers to take over MySQL

Nexedi says Oracle shouldn't be allowed to acquire the open-source database

French ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor Nexedi made a public bid Monday to take over stewardship of the open-source MySQL database from Sun Microsystems, offering a symbolic €1 in return.

Oracle announced plans to buy Sun in April. The deal has been held up for months while European regulators conduct an antitrust review, which has reached a climax in recent days. A main concern of the E.U. has been the fate of MySQL if owned by Oracle, which holds a major chunk of the database market with its own proprietary platform.

If the deal is approved, it will leave Nexedi and end-users in an uncertain place, according to a letter that company CEO Jean-Paul Smets sent to the E.U. Monday.

Nexedi's open-source ERP5 product is based on MySQL, which has enabled the vendor to support a number of storage platforms and use the MySQL Cluster technology to handle large amounts of data, according to the letter.

But the pending acquisition of MySQL by Oracle "has changed the situation," the letter states.

"MySQL has become a liability to Nexedi. Our competitive advantage in the field of business applications has decreased because of the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle," Smets wrote.

"There are no competing open source relational databases which can match the performance of MySQL Cluster for very large data sets," Smets added. But Oracle's "poor track record" with past acquisitions means "the risk is very high that Oracle will destroy the value of MySQL and of its underlying open source technologies in order to promote its own proprietary technologies, both in the field [of] database and in the field of business applications," he wrote.

Nexedi is asking the E.U. to ask Oracle to sell off MySQL to a third party "which offers reasonable guarantees to develop it commercially under an open source business model." It is offering €1 to "relieve Oracle from what has become both a negative asset in its merger and acquisition strategy, and a negative asset to the open source and Free Software communities."

On Monday, Oracle sought to ease concerns about MySQL under its ownership by issuing a press release listing 10 "commitments" to the database. They include a pledge to continue releasing MySQL in the future under the General Public License, to increase spending on research and development, and to create a customer advisory board. The commitments would be valid for five years after the purchase is completed.

Smets was unmoved by Oracle's gesture.

"I usually do not believe in commitments from companies unless they can be enforced by something tangible such as a contract, a jurisdiction, cash handed to someone, etc," he said via e-mail.

Oracle and Sun did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The E.U. is expected to make a final decision on the merger by Jan. 27, but in recent days has signaled it will approve the deal.

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