Oracle Bad for Open Source, Survey Says
March 7, 2011 Alex Woodie
How bad is Oracle for open source software? According to the results of a survey released by EnterpriseDB last week, Java developers would rather see Larry Ellison in a dunk tank than Bill Gates, the former Microsoft CEO who crusaded against Linux. The company behind the open source PostgreSQL database also detected some bad karma emanating from Oracle’s handling of MySQL, which is something that IBM i professionals can relate to.
The enticing specter of billionaire tech CEOs sitting in a dunk tank is the product of a non-scientific survey conducted by EnterpriseDB at the JavaOne conference held in September in San Francisco. Nearly 40 percent selected Ellison for the wet seat, compared to 26 percent for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 25 percent for Gates, and 9 percent for former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
While all of those tech giants have been perceived to be unfriendly to Java at one point or another, Oracle, which obtained Java along with Solaris, the Sparc server business, and MySQL with the 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, is considered the current bogeyman by Java supporters. Some 56 percent of the survey respondents said Oracle’s recent lawsuit against Google for copyright and patent infringement is “bad for Java.” Interestingly, 14 percent said the lawsuit would be a good thing for Java, while 30 percent said it would have no impact.
When it comes to other open source projects like MySQL (Java is a pseudo open source project), 46 percent of respondents said projects like MySQL would “stagnate” under Oracle’s ownership, with an additional 19 percent saying open source would “die” under Oracle. About 35 percent said open source projects would thrive.
If Oracle’s handling of MySQL running on IBM i is any indication, MySQL customers can expect the Redwood Shores, California-based company to make more unpopular decisions with the open source database. Indeed, more than 42 percent of the JavaOne survey respondents think Oracle will raise MySQL prices.
IBM i customers running the MySQL database for their PHP apps would have welcomed a price increase compared to what they got–a notice late last year that Oracle would no longer be producing binaries for MySQL to run on the IBM i OS, and a cessation of technical support for the database-server combination. Oracle cited “low demand” as the reason for ending support for IBM i, despite reports from IBM executives and industry experts that uptake of the database was doing quite well on the platform.
Some have speculated that the real reason Oracle dropped support for IBM i was simply to deal a blow to IBM, its longtime rival in the enterprise IT business. This speculation was fueled by another Oracle support decision regarding the “Blue Stack” of IBM middleware that is used by IBM i customers running the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP software. Oracle also killed off the Blue Stack in late 2010. You just shouldn’t expect Oracle to do anything nice for IBM as it seeks to build a complete enterprise IT stack that’s under its complete control, industry insiders say.
But it’s not just open source. Oracle appears more willing to use its considerable heft to get its way these days. It’s taken off the gloves with another rival, SAP, which ran the now-defunct TomorrowNow company that provided technical support and maintenance for Oracle ERP applications, including JD Edwards and PeopleSoft. A jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages, but SAP is appealing that decision.
Oracle is also apparently playing hard ball with the third-party hardware support companies. According to accusations leveled last month by the Service Industry Association, Oracle is using anticompetitive practices to discourage third-party companies from servicing Sun servers and StorageTek storage products.
SIA, which is based in San Diego, California, has filed complaints in all 50 states and Europe, alleging that Oracle’s policies “are the most onerous of all within the IT service and maintenance industry and are created solely to monopolize the Sun hardware maintenance business.”