Monday, December 14, 2009

My Open Letter to the European Competition Commissioner

Monty urged me to help save MySQL. I couldn't possibly refuse such an offer.
Dear Competition Commissioner:

I am the Chief Executive and Technology Officer for OpenGamma, a financial technology startup located in the United Kingdom. I am writing to urge you to immediately and unconditionally approve the merger of Oracle and Sun.

I have a long standing history with both the Open Source and Database communities, having worked for a number of database startups in the United States of America, as well as working at early-stage companies making use and refining a number of Open Source technologies. I also have experience working at Oracle during a summer internship while I was attending the University of California at Berkeley.

Furthermore, in my more recent career as a consumer (rather than producer) of database technologies, I have setup and managed numerous, large MySQL installations, including one with more than 10 nodes and 150GB of active data (and several terabytes of archive data) in the financial services industry. I have also been a customer of Oracle's database technology for systems even larger.

In my mind, there is no logical reason to reject this merger based on considerations for the MySQL technology.

First of all, as a consumer of database technologies, I can tell you that Oracle and MySQL simply do not compete in the marketplace. While customers have replaced Oracle with MySQL, the applications based on Oracle that were ported to MySQL were never good candidates for Oracle and would have been ported to another database engine in due course as Oracle moves to the highest end of the market. Customers have numerous options for porting their applications off of Oracle onto a lower-cost database engine; MySQL simply has the most brand recognition in this space. Furthermore, MySQL has been used as a pricing lever by Oracle customers rather than an active option for migration.

That implies that Oracle's ownership of MySQL might see a reduction in competition for Oracle's core product, but there is a flourishing Open Source database market these days (which there wasn't when MySQL was originally created): Ingres, Firebird, LucidDB and PostgreSQL are all far more applicable to the Oracle customer base than MySQL is. Even if MySQL development were to come to an immediate halt, this wouldn't harm consumers in a such an extremely competitive environment.

However, the continued uncertainty over the Sun acquisition is potentially far more anticompetitive for consumers of technology as a whole: Sun has a number of competitive products with far greater applicability than MySQL (including their storage, networking, and computer chip technology). Allowing those products to die because Sun ran out of cash during this phase of its life would be extremely and permanently damaging to the overall computer industry inside Europe, and reduce competition significantly. Delaying this merger over the matter of MySQL would result in far greater anticompetitive results to European consumers of computing technology than even the worst case arguments of biased, self-interested advocates in this matter.

Thank you for your time, and once again, I urge you to approve this merger unconditionally and without further delay.

Sincerely Yours,

Kirk Wylie
Chief Executive Officer
OpenGamma

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