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Ellison compromises on MySQL control?

So much for "vigorous"

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Larry Ellison is reported to be considering a compromise with the European Union over MySQL, having recently vowed to "vigorously" fight regulators.

The New York Post has reported that to help close the deal, Ellison is willing to create a separate entity within the combined Oracle and Sun Microsystems that's home to MySQL. Ellison may create an entirely separate board for the MySQL business.

The Post provides no further details. MySQL is currently part of Sun's software business, but formed Sun's database group after the fading systems giant bought MySQL for $1bn in 2008.

Ellison's compromise comes after his company last month issued a fiery retort to the Commission's statement of objections over its ownership of MySQL and the potential impact it might have on competition.

The statement denigrated regulators' understanding of open-source, and closed by saying: "We are confident we will ultimately obtain unconditional clearance of the transaction."

The Post reported on Friday, though, that a source told it: "The only reason [Ellison] would blink is it is the only way to get the deal done."

Oracle failed to respond to our repeated requests for comment, which generally means either the company couldn't find the right person to issue a denial or that something's up and it won't comment. A spokesperson beaten out of hiding by eWeek's Chris Preimesberger responded shrilly before clamming up: "This is completely untrue. [We have] no clue where the Post got it!"

Rhetoric and posturing aside, time and money will be concentrating minds inside Oracle. Ellison said in September that the failure to close the deal is costing him $100m a month. Currently, there's no end in sight to the EU's investigation of a deal that was expected to close this summer.

Also at risk is the valuable MySQL customer. An analyst's survey has found that use of MySQL is expected to actually start falling for the fist time - downloads and use of the database has been growing for much of the decade. The 451 Group's poll of 347 respondents found that use of MySQL will hit 72.3 per cent in 2014, down from today's 82.1 per cent.

MySQL users and open-sourcers are concerned about the prospect of Oracle owning the database if - or when - the deal closes, along with the continued uncertainty generated by the deal still being open.

Fifteen per cent of all open-source users and 14.4 per cent of current MySQL users said they'd be less likely to use MySQL if the database is bought by Oracle. Respondents are concerned about Oracle's future plans for MySQL.

Notably, 32.6 per cent of all survey respondents and 34.0 per cent of MySQL users said Oracle should hand MySQL to an independent foundation to continue development.

Meanwhile, the MariaDB MySQL fork started by MySQL creator Monty Widenius is expected to grow to 3.7 per cent by 2014, up from zero per cent today. PostgreSQL is also expected to grow, from 27.1 per cent to 30.5 per cent by 2011, and remain at the same level by 2014. ®

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