I became involved about a week ago after receiving a call from Oracle’s CCO; Jeb Dasteel, from there the experience began. I have already talked about some of the anticipation and if you have been following on Facebook you would have seen commentary I provided during the entire experience, as much for the Oracle community as my kids who are busy studying for finals at McMaster University. Give me a break I’m a proud Dad. So how did things go?
It all began Wednesday afternoon in Brussels, Belgium with meetings at Oracle’s lawyer’s offices, which conveniently were right next to the Conrad Hotel. (BTW, nice hotel and it just so happens that the Italian President was in to speak at the EC and he was staying on my floor, we had a quick spaghetti party on 6.) So, off to the lawyers to discuss and finalize our presentation for the next day. It was determined that since the IOUG and the UKOUG (represented by Chairman Ronin Miles), were both there that we should combine statements. So for the entire afternoon we reviewed the updated materials and took it even further. I expect to have the slides posted in the next few days.
The session room was filled to near capacity. Here is a view from my seat in the hearing room.
It included the Competition Commission and the case team working on this file. In addition to what seemed like 100 people associated with Oracle, there were people who were supporting the objection. Some of those groups included: Microsoft, SAP and MariaDB. As well there were representatives from 11 member states of the EC and one guys from US DOJ, I assume they all were here to watch this historical purchase work through the process All of these had a stake in the decision, but for different reasons. Rumours were even swirling that SAP might announce that it now runs on MySQL. I never heard if it does as they spoke on Friday and I assume they were announcing that it was certified to run on that database platform. I only attended the session on Thursday when Oracle made its primary case along with Sun. There and was a great job explaining how the MySQL product really works and why this objection may not make sense. The first was the idea that the EC’s objections may not be based on fact but in an interpretation or twisting of facts. One concern that I heard and stated at the session, was that the commission had questioned the validity of the hundreds of letters sent to the commission by customers and users and user groups. I can reiterate again, that the letter the IOUG sent was created by us without input from Oracle. They provided us a sample but our letter was done by the time we received the sample. Basically we used the address for our letter....over and over each of us pledged that we wrote these on our own without prodding. If it was like the IOUG; we began talks about objecting to the objection as soon as it was released, I expect most people were the same. Rumour even had it that this case may have garnered the most email and direct mail support of any purchase/merger ever for the EC.
The discussions were definitely heated at times. Questions and answered were almost like bombs being thrown from one group to the other. The Commission asked great questions and Oracle’s team were able to respond clearly and quite reasonably. There were many questions that included some emotional concerns, people need to remember that this is business.
As I said during my presentation to the committee, IT professional are innovators and rebels and that nothing that Oracle would do with MySQL would change competition. If someone in IT sees the opportunity to create something new or create a fork of MySQL. The chances are there and it will not be stopped.
I just found the whole process where your accusers are also your jury an interesting concept but this how government work. I don’t know how this will turn out but I can tell you that it is far from over and I expect Oracle will fight this until a just decision is made. Considering that we expected that the deal to close in the summer, it is becoming a real issue. Decisions that need to be made cannot due to the uncertainty. People need to know what the company plans for its staff as it is integrated. This delay is costing people, companies and confidence. I hope that by being there as the President of the IOUG, a user group member, as a Thoughtcorp employee and as an Oracle customer and user, that in some way we have helped them see the light and let this deal go though.