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It's beginning to look a lot like a merger. European regulators are warming up to the idea of Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) buying Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA ) after many months of skepticism, and it's all because Oracle has promised to treat Sun's database product right.
The European Commission is now "optimistic" that a "satisfactory outcome" can be reached in the Sun-Oracle deal. That positive statement came on the heels of Oracle posting a list of commitments designed to keep MySQL alive after the merger. MySQL is an open-source product that competes in many ways with Oracle's flagship databases, and the commission has been worried that the business combination would remove a serious competitor from the database market.
Personally, I don't think that Oracle should buy Sun at all, but unfair competition in the database sector is the least of my worries. PostgreSQL continues to carry the open-source database banner, and Sybase (NYSE: SY ) is still an independent database vendor. Even if those two bastions of database choice were to go under somehow, I don't see giants like IBM (NYSE: IBM ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) getting out of the database race for many years.
No, the Sun deal is simply bad business. Oracle knows little about hardware, which is what Sun is good at. This deal positions Oracle closer to IBM and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) as an all-around provider of everything, and I suppose there might be some synergies in there somewhere. But mashing together two very different corporate cultures often spells disaster, and when you sell everything including the kitchen sink to your customers, you end up competing with old partners like HP and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) .
So I guess the Sun is going down as planned, just a bit later than expected. It's just hard to see any benefits of going through with it, whether or not MySQL is part of the package.