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Article

Oracle Offers Concessions

Made 10 promises concerning MySQL that were widely interpreted as having a cathartic effect on the regulator

Oracle Sessions at Cloud Expo

Cloud Computing Expo - Oracle has thrown the European Commission a few bones hoping they may prove to be just the lubricant the EC needs to drop its opposition to Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems along with the MySQL database.

After having what it calls "constructive discussions" with the EC, Oracle this morning made 10 promises concerning MySQL that were widely interpreted as having a cathartic effect on the regulator because it issued a statement saying that its antitrust chief Neelie Kroes is "optimistic that the case will have a satisfactory outcome, while ensuring that the transaction will not have an adverse impact on effective competition in the European database market."

Of course that's pretty much what she said going into the two hearings last week where Oracle claimed that the EC twisted the results of its antitrust investigation to suit its own MySQL bias by misrepresenting, cherry-picking or ignoring what users said about the market and the competitive scene.

However EC also called the promise "an important new element to be taken into account in the ongoing proceedings."

"In particular," it said, "Oracle's binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to five years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial are significant new facts."

The EC has until January 27 to decide whether it's going to block the acquisition or not. Continued opposition to the deal would probably see Oracle take the agency to court as well as create a rupture with the U.S. Justice Department, which has already waved the acquisition through.

Florian Mueller, the spokesman for MySQL creator Monty Widenius who's dead set against the acquisition, labeled the undertakings "purely cosmetic" and "totally ineffective." He told Reuters that "neither storage engine vendors nor ‘forkers' - developers of derived versions - nor enterprise users would have a basis on which to invest in MySQL-related innovation."

He told this paper that he was "still waiting for what will really happen until midnight," pointing to an article in EurActiv.com, a UK publication that follows the European Union and its policy positions, that said that "sources close to the deal say Oracle's ‘public remedies' are unlikely to satisfy the EU's original objections to the deal."

Mueller's midnight watch is a reference to the fact that today is the last day for Oracle to propose remedies. According to Reuters he's wishful thinking. An Oracle source told the wire service "Nothing is going to be proposed to the European Commission formally today. This is it. We are unilaterally telling our customers what we are going to do and that's binding."

Widenius went to the mattresses over the weekend, calling for "open war" with Oracle and summoning the open source community to flood the EC with e-mails denouncing the acquisition. He wants Oracle to be forced to divest MySQL to buy Sun.

Mueller is hoping for formal remedies because the EC would then solicit the opinion of users and rivals. Oracle's undertakings, made "to reassure the Commission," would not, removing another delay from the acquisition.

Oracle has promised:

1. Continued Availability of Storage Engine APIs. Oracle shall maintain and periodically enhance MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture to allow users the flexibility to choose from a portfolio of native and third party supplied storage engines.

MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture shall mean MySQL's current practice of using, publicly-available, documented application programming interfaces to allow storage engine vendors to "plug" into the MySQL database server. Documentation shall be consistent with the documentation currently provided by Sun.

2. Non-assertion. As copyright holder, Oracle will change Sun's current policy and shall not assert or threaten to assert against anyone that a third party vendor's implementations of storage engines must be released under the GPL because they have implemented the application programming interfaces available as part of MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.

A commercial license will not be required by Oracle from third party storage engine vendors in order to implement the application programming interfaces available as part of MySQL's Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.

Oracle shall reproduce this commitment in contractual commitments to storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun.

3. License commitment. Upon termination of their current MySQL OEM Agreement, Oracle shall offer storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun an extension of their Agreement on the same terms and conditions for a term not exceeding December 10, 2014.

Oracle shall reproduce this commitment in contractual commitments to storage vendors who at present have a commercial license with Sun.

4. Commitment to enhance MySQL in the future under the GPL. Oracle shall continue to enhance MySQL and make subsequent versions of MySQL, including Version 6, available under the GPL. Oracle will not release any new, enhanced version of MySQL Enterprise Edition without contemporaneously releasing a new, also enhanced version of MySQL Community Edition licensed under the GPL. Oracle shall continue to make the source code of all versions of MySQL Community Edition publicly available at no charge.

5. Support not mandatory. Customers will not be required to purchase support services from Oracle as a condition to obtaining a commercial license to MySQL.

6. Increase spending on MySQL research and development. Oracle commits to make available appropriate funding for the MySQL continued development (GPL version and commercial version). During each of the next three years, Oracle will spend more on research and development (R&D) for the MySQL Global Business Unit than Sun spent in its most recent fiscal year (USD 24 million) preceding the closing of the transaction.

7. MySQL Customer Advisory Board. No later than six months after the anniversary of the closing, Oracle will create and fund a customer advisory board, including in particular end users and embedded customers, to provide guidance and feedback on MySQL development priorities and other issues of importance to MySQL customers.

8. MySQL Storage Engine Vendor Advisory Board. No later than six months after the anniversary of the closing, Oracle will create and fund a storage engine vendor advisory board, to provide guidance and feedback on MySQL development priorities and other issues of importance to MySQL storage engine vendors.

9. MySQL Reference Manual. Oracle will continue to maintain, update and make available for download at no charge a MySQL Reference Manual similar in quality to that currently made available by Sun.

10. Preserve Customer Choice for Support. Oracle will ensure that end-user and embedded customers paying for MySQL support subscriptions will be able to renew their subscriptions on an annual or multi-year basis, according to the customer's preference.

The geographic scope of these commitments shall be worldwide and these commitments shall continue until the fifth anniversary of the closing of the transaction.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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