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EC and Oracle Continue Tango

The dance between Oracle, which seems to badly want to buy Sun Microsystems, including its MySQL database (and, really, why else would it want the company), and the European Commission, which has appeared to be relatively hostile to the concept (largely over said MySQL), continues, with signs of moderation on both sides.

Yesterday, Oracle said that it was publicly committing to ten points "in order to further reassure the Commission":

  • continued availability of the MySQL Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture, so users can swap out storage engines
  • a change to the Sun policy of insisting that any third party vendor using the storage engine API would have to release products under the Gnu Public License (GPL)
  • a continuation of commercial licenses for storage vendors at current terms and conditions up to (but no longer than) December 10, 2014 (but no promises past what is really a near-term time frame)
  • a commitment to "enhance MySQL" under the GPL ("Oracle will not release any new, enhanced version of MySQL Enterprise Edition without contemporaneously releasing a new, also enhanced version of MySQL Community Edition licensed under the GPL," though whether the levels of enhancement are the same seems reasonably up for question.)
  • no mandatory support contracts
  • spending more, in each of the next three years, on MySQL development than Sun did ($24 million) in its most recent fiscal year
  • creation and funding of a MySQL customer advisory board (nothing about how representatives would be chosen)
  • creation and funding of a MySQL storage engine vendor advisory board
  • a MySQL reference manual "similar in quality" to what Sun offers
  • end-user and embedded customers paying for support subscriptions will be able to renew on an annual or multi-year basis
As you may note by some of my parenthetical comments, these statements are hardly watertight, though, to be fair, how can you predict and assure the needs of a market over the long haul?

In the meantime, according to published reports, European regulators seem to have softened their stance and say that they've had "constructive discussions" about the deal:

"In particular, Oracle's binding contractual undertakings to storage engine vendors regarding copyright non-assertion and the extension over a period of up to 5 years of the terms and conditions of existing commercial licenses are significant new facts," the organization said in a statement issued on Monday.
If this isn't sounding like the slippery language of diplomacy, I don't know what else would. Frankly, this is starting to sound like a face-saving process so they can change their minds without appearing to change their minds and let the deal occur as it probably would have without intervention.

Image via stock.xchng user katagaci, site standard license.

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