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EU fears Oracle will kill MySQL, but is that even possible?

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When the European Commission isn't occupied with important duties such as regulating banana curvature, it likes to turn its attention to large companies with significant market share. EU regulators are concerned about the implications of Oracle's pending acquisition of Sun, a $7.4 billion deal that could significantly reshape the enterprise IT market. The EC has temporarily halted the acquisition and is preparing to launch an antitrust inquiry to determine if the sale should be permitted to go forward.

At the heart of the controversy is MySQL, the popular open source database software that Sun acquired last year. EC commissioner Neelie Kroes says that the absorption of leading open source database software by a company that sells competing proprietary database requires close scrutiny. Specifically, the commissioner fears that Oracle will discontinue ongoing development of MySQL, reducing the choices that are available to consumers and potentially forcing users to buy the database giant's more costly enterprise solutions.

In an economic climate that is encouraging companies to cut costs by adopting open source software solutions, the rapid growth of MySQL has the potential to cannibalize Oracle's lucrative database business. It's still entirely unclear if Oracle intends to kill MySQL or capitalize on the open source trend by making MySQL a core part of its business. Oracle could also simply boost commercial MySQL support contract costs to a level that makes the open source option unappetizing for commercial users.

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