The European Commission must be feeling a bit silly right about now. Despite insisting that Oracle has not responded to its requests for comment and concessions in its planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems (and the open-source database MySQL), Amazon.com recently offered the EC all the proof it needs that MySQL competition remains alive and well.
For those who missed it, Amazon announced last week a fork of the popular MySQL database, called RDS (Relational Database Service). RDS is essentially a hosted version of MySQL, one that developers can write to at the minuscule cost of pennies per hour.
Oracle hasn't even started with MySQL yet, and it already faces significant competition, not to mention the other MySQL forks (e.g., Drizzle).
As Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady writes:
From here, it seems fairly clear that while RDS will not be the best option for every MySQL user, it will find a more than adequate market of customers who are willing to trade money for time, as (former MySQL CEO) Marten Mickos might put it. Assuming that Amazon can realize its typical economies of scale by amortizing the management and administration costs of the service over a wide array of machines, the product should more than pay for itself simply by widening the addressable market.
How much wider will it make the addressable market? At a minimum, it will lower the barriers to entry for customers with relational needs (read: most customers) and a lack of cloud expertise. It will be fascinating to see, however, if Amazon has far grander ambitions in mind.
Interesting, and somewhat unfair to Oracle. Presumably Amazon's entrance into the MySQL market is A-OK because Amazon isn't currently a database company, but it is a significant and growing infrastructure provider. Why should it get to own a complete stack, but Oracle can't?
That, after all, is what Oracle is attempting to accomplish with the Sun/MySQL acquisition. Sun gives it hardware, while MySQL gives it a strong entry into the Web database market and an effective hedge against Microsoft in lower-end enterprise needs.
Oracle's bid for Sun/MySQL, in other words, isn't about squelching competition, but rather about enhancing it. Amazon's RDS proves that strong, viable competitors to MySQL can arise from within the MySQL community, which disproves the EC's argument that Oracle's control of MySQL will somehow crush competition.
And if the deal doesn't hurt competition, as Amazon RDS all-but-proves it doesn't, then the EC's opposition is hollow and should be shelved, as The 451 Group's Matt Aslett argues.
It's time for the EC to acknowledge it was wrong, and move on. Amazon surely has. But until the EC makes a final decision, Oracle (and MySQL) can't.