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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: Oracle, Larry Ellison, The EU, And MySQL

Would you be shocked--shocked!--to learn that the EU's battle against Oracle is all about politics, power, and preserving jobs?

I spent much of the past two weeks in Rome and Athens and was utterly dazzled by the monuments from ancient civilizations and the soaring art and imagination of the Renaissance and beyond. And the day before I returned home, I might have absorbed some continental cultural insights into the EU's fixation with MySQL and the EU's related desire to bring Oracle and Larry Ellison to heel.

But first I want to underscore Larry Ellison's stated position on this MySQL obsession because it's going to affect how not just Oracle but indeed all technology companies in their business operations in Europe in these muddled days of Emperor Neelie Kroes, who heads the European Commission's anti-capitalism (did I say "anti-capitalism"? Sorry—my mistake—instead of "anti-capitalism" I meant to say "anti-competition" but "anti-capitalism" came out).

Kroes, for reasons we'll get to in a moment, is armpit-deep in political gamesmanship, technological fantasies, and empire-building, and has absolutely no intention whatsoever of giving Ellison and Oracle and Sun a fair shake. This is now about power of the worst kind—the bureaucratic kind that's answerable to no one and accountable to an even smaller group—and her intention to make a very public display with Oracle and Ellison.

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But Emperor Kroes, though clearly schooled in back-room politics and first-rate dissembling, must have missed the lesson on "know your enemy" because I think she has made a monumental mistake in thinking she can intimidate and overpower Larry Ellison. Here's why:

In a public Q&A Ellison did in September, former Sun executive Ed Zander at one point asks Ellison about the then early-stage sticking points the EU had with MySQL over concerns that Oracle would bury it so as not to hurt sales or Oracle's database products. After Ellison's first broad comment about his plans for MySQL, look closely at the answers he gives to Zander about the likelihood of getting rid of MySQL:

"We're a big fan of open source—in fact, we've had the major transaction engine to MySQL—it's something Oracle (NSDQ: ORCL) bought years ago and has invested in it to a higher level than it was invested in before. We believe in open source, we're a huge supporter of Linux. MySQL and Oracle do not compete—at all . . . . There's a long list of database machines and database software we compete against—we never compete against MySQL. They're both called databases, they address very different markets—furthermore, it's open source."

Zander asks, "If they ask you to spin it off, will you?"

Ellison: "No."

Rapid-fire, Zander asks, "If they told you to spin it off, would you?"

Ellison: "No. We're not gonna spin it off. The U.S. government cleared this, we think the Europeans are gonna clear this, and we are not going to spin anything off."

Not a lot of ambiguity, is there? He bought it, he wants it, he intends to invest in it, and perhaps most of all he doesn't want the EU thinking it can control every move Oracle makes and dictate the terms of all future deals the highly acquisitive company pursues.

From the perspective of Emperor Kroes, however, here's an excerpt from a rather troubling article from Forbes.com that was picked up by the Chinese online service Alibaba.com:

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[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2011 | 7:17:10 AM
re: Global CIO: Oracle, Larry Ellison, The EU, And MySQL
[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2011 | 7:18:26 AM
re: Global CIO: Oracle, Larry Ellison, The EU, And MySQL
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