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The Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA ) buyout gives Oracle exposure to plenty of new markets, and I don't think all of them are necessarily good for the buyer. But the whole deal is catching resistance from the European Union's antitrust regulators because Sun also comes with something Oracle knows very well.
Sun bought the MySQL database company in 2008. It took awhile to figure out exactly what Sun wanted to do with an open-source database platform. Apparently, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz simply wanted to introduce his other hardware and software products to a new set of customers. MySQL databases power some of the biggest names on the Internet: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) runs its search engine with the help of MySQL databases, and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) uses it for many parts of Yahoo! Finance, for example.
Oracle is a market-leading database expert, competing with other giants like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM ) to land lucrative license and support contracts with enterprise-class customers. Throwing MySQL into the mix would expand Oracle's market reach considerably. The company currently receives most of its revenue from enterprise IT, while MySQL is more popular among Web companies and smaller groups of enthusiasts. However, in terms of revenue MySQL would generate little added revenue for Oracle’s massive database business. It appears that European regulators are more concerned that Oracle would stifle growth of this popular open-source solution than they are about Oracle flexing added monopolistic power over databases.
So Oracle looks likely to keep Sun's hardware business and become a mini-IBM -- but will probably have to leave MySQL by the wayside. The MySQL operation could be spun out as a separate company on the public market. It could also be picked up by private investment firms and then prepared for a future IPO. Or some other acquisition-hungry giant might step in -- IBM and Mr. Softy would hit the same antitrust walls, but MySQL would be a fine fit with Google.
Me, I hope to see MySQL on the open market, because that operation on its own is small, has a dedicated base of fans and customers, and has a lot of growth ahead of it. Revenue may be small now, but Red Hat (NYSE: RHT ) and others have proven that there’s a viable market around providing service and support around popular open-source programs. It's the spitting image of a Rule Breaker. I'd be interested from Day One.
The comments box below can't wait to hear what you think about Oracle's superfluous databases.