One thing that’s safe to say about Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius, MySQL’s creator and founder, is that he’s as tenacious and determined as the man he’s fighting – Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
Despite the fact that the Oracle-Sun Microsystems merger is looking like a done deal, thanks to a successful appeal by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and its allies to the skeptical European Union’s commission on competition, Widenius is launching a worldwide petition in a last-ditch effort to stop the merger.
The petition, called “Save MySQL!,” vows to “keep gathering support until the very end of the process,” which would be next month. The commission is believed to be satisfied with Oracle’s promises and plans to approve of the deal next month. All that remains is to write a report on its findings.
Widenius plans to deliver the first of several batches of signatures to regulators on Monday, January 4. Electronic signatures are being gathered through the Save MySQL! Web site in 12 languages, with more to be added soon.
The petition asks “competition authorities around the world to block Oracle’s acquisition of Sun” unless one of the solutions that the signatories of the petition can select is put in place. Those potential solutions include a complete divestiture of MySQL to a suitable third party, a so-called “linking exception” and releasing MySQL (all past versions and the ones released over the next three years) under the Apache Software License 2.0, an open source license. It’s currently available under the GNU General Public License, which is a pretty open license in its own right.
As of press time, 2,233 people had signed the petition, with 93 percent favoring the divestiture option.
A question of competition
Widenius doesn’t mention that he has a start-up called Monty Program Ab, which develops its own fork of MySQL called MariaDB. Monty Program Ab would undoubtedly benefit from any of his proposals, especially if Oracle is forced to divest MySQL to a “suitable third party.”
The petition expresses the belief that “Oracle, if it acquired Sun’s MySQL, would have a fundamental conflict of interests between MySQL (and its different editions and storage engines) on the one hand and Oracle’s high-priced products on the other hand.” Oracle has claimed otherwise, and several analysts feel Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) SQL Server has more to lose from a stronger MySQL than Oracle.
Merv Adrian, president of IT Market Strategy, thinks Widenius’ effort is futile. “It looks like a rear-guard action at this point. Indications are that Oracle believes it’s over. I don’t see what they hope to gain.” If the belief was getting MySQL back from Sun, “that clearly won’t happen,” he added.