December 9, 2009 -- With debate brewing about whether database, application and middleware giant Oracle should be able to obtain commercial open source database vendor MySQL, concerns about the proposed acquisition have a part to play in a predicted decline of MySQL use, according to a report by market research firm The 451 Group.

Oracle is presenting its case for the acquisition of Sun for approximately $7.4 billion, which brings Sun’s 2008 $1 billion purchase of MySQL into the Oracle fold, to European Union regulators tomorrow.

The 451 Group surveyed a segment it deems somewhat overlooked since the European Commission opened an investigation into the acquisition’s competitive impact; 347 open source software users were surveyed to determine their attitudes on Oracle's impending ownership.

MySQL is the most widely used database among open source software users, according to the report, used by 82.1 respondent of respondents. But its popularity is expected to decline, with 78.7 percent of respondents expecting to use it in 2011and 72.3 percent by 2014.

Concerns related to the proposed acquisition of MySQL by Oracle have a part to play in the predicted decline, according to the report. A substantial percentage of respondents are less likely to use MySQL if it is acquired, with 15 percent of open source users indicating a decrease in use and 14.4 percent of current MySQL users saying the same.

Weighing in on the decision of whether Oracle should be allowed to keep MySQL, a significant portion of respondents, 32.6 percent, want Oracle to hand the database to an independent foundation to continue its development, and 7.5 percent stated that Oracle should relicense it under a more permissive license than the GNU GPL.

That said, The 451 Group survey does not paint an entirely grim picture. In fact, a majority of those who already use MySQL – 63.9 percent – will continue to use MySQL and 5.6 percent are more likely to use MySQL if it is acquired. More than 6 percent of general open source users also indicated an increased interest in the platform.

A smaller number of the survey’s respondents thought that Oracle should be allowed to keep MySQL – 17 percent. And, 3.5 percent added the stipulation that Oracle could maintain possession as long as the code continues to be made available under an open source license.

Matt Aslett, Senior Analyst of Enterprise Software for The 451 Group was quoted to say that open source software users might be more inclined toward being fearful of Oracle's ownership of MySQL. “The proposed acquisition of Sun and MySQL by Oracle has raised significant concerns among open source software users about the future of MySQL. While most are happy to continue to use the product, a significant proportion would be less inclined toward MySQL were it owned by Oracle, and usage of MySQL is expected to decline over the next five years,” he said.

Just days before the December 10 hearing, the New York Post reported that Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, is considering a compromise with the European Union over MySQL, despite previous vows to the contrary. Citing two anonymous sources, the Post reported that Ellison is now willing to create a separate entity within the merged companies that is home MySQL.

For more information on the open source reaction to the Oracle-Sun merger read Steve Millers blog. Miller describes the response to Oracle’s announcement at this year’s MySQL Conference.

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