Study: MySQL use to drop under Oracle ownership

Survey finds that Oracle ownership would blunt demand for Sun's open source database

Usage of the open-source MySQL database is set to decline if Oracle succeeds in buying the software's owner, Sun Microsystems, according to new data released by analyst firm The 451 Group on Friday.

The firm polled 347 open-source software users. While 82.1 percent of respondents use MySQL today, that figure will drop to 72.3 percent by 2014, the study found.

Fifteen percent said that if Oracle buys Sun, they would be less inclined to use MySQL. Only 6.3 percent indicated they would be more likely to use the database under Oracle's stewardship.

Oracle announced plans to buy Sun in April, but the deal has been held up while European authorities conduct an antitrust review. Officials there have expressed particular concern over the fate of MySQL under Oracle's ownership. But some observers have argued that MySQL and Oracle's own database aren't direct competitors, meaning Oracle would have little reason to stifle it. In addition, MySQL's code base would live on through offshoot projects like MariaDB.

According to the 451 Group study, MariaDB usage is expected to rise from zero today to 3.7 percent of all users by 2014, according to the study.

PostgreSQL usage will get a bump as well, growing from 27.1 percent of all users to 30.5 percent by 2014.

As for MySQL, some respondents want it to be maintained outside of Oracle. 32.6 percent called for it to be given to an independent organization that would further its development. Still, only 4.3 percent said Oracle should be made to sell the database off to another software company.

"We do not believe that Oracle would see any of the alternatives to divesting MySQL as any less of a last resort and we do not expect Oracle to offer any concessions," 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett said in a statement. "However, we believe that Oracle might be more inclined to open up the development of the MySQL database under its own terms in order to encourage more widespread adoption."

Meanwhile, Oracle's bid to buy Sun recently received a potential boost from prominent open-source legal expert Eben Moglen, founder and executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center.

Moglen sent a letter to the European Union on Nov. 19, telling regulators the open-source license used by MySQL, General Public License Version 2, provides adequate protection for parties outside Oracle to develop and redistribute MySQL.

"Without expressing any opinion on any other aspect of the Commission's ongoing merger investigation, I believe that the issues raised concerning the GPLv2 status of the MySQL codebase do not warrant a conclusion that this transaction threatens significant anti-competitive consequences," he wrote in part.

Moglen issued the opinion after a request from Oracle's legal team, according to a statement.

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