(Refiles to clarify rival was Microsoft, not Windows)
* MySQL database key problem for EU approval of Oracle-Sun
* MySQL founder says afraid Oracle could kill rival MySQL
* Technically different; but clients switch between them
* Says MySQL value to Oracle much larger than turnover
* Sees positioning MySQL vs Microsoft costly
By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent
HELSINKI, Nov 2 The main rival to Sun's JAVA.O MySQL database has always been Oracle ORCL.O not Microsoft (MSFT.O), the creator of MySQL said, as the EU nears an antitrust decision on a proposed $7 billion Oracle-Sun tie-up.
European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told Oracle last month it had failed to diminish worries that the purchase would hurt competition. The EU has until Jan. 19 to decide whether it will accept the deal. [nLL257046] [nLP726458]
Oracle wants a quick resolution because it says that Sun, the fourth-biggest maker of computer servers, is losing $100 million a month as rivals like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) and IBM (IBM.N) poach customers amid uncertainty about the closing of the deal.
"The largest and the most common rival was Oracle. In every deal we were competing against Oracle," Michael "Monty" Widenius, the founder of MySQL, told Reuters in an interview.
Widenius, one of the most respected developers of open-source software, left Sun earlier this year to set up his own small database firm Monty Program Ab.
Sun bought MySQL for $1 billion just last year and Oracle has said it does not plan to divest MySQL.
The global database market is dominated by technology heavyweights Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
MySQL has been a rare major newcomer to the industry -- pushing down prices of databases and their maintenance.
Widenius said that when large corporates start to use MySQL, they usually use it to replace databases running some 60-80 percent of their applications -- creating price pressure also on the databases used for the remaining applications.
MySQL's value to Oracle is much larger than its turnover as it would remove some of the pricing pressure on its own databases, Widenius said.
MySQL pays for the whole Sun acquisition, he said.
Oracle has said it plans to customise its software with Sun's hardware, selling specialised computers and storage devices that offer better performance than ones using hardware and software from other companies. OPEN SOURCE WORTH A BILLION
Sun has lately positioned MySQL increasingly as a rival to Microsoft, but Widenius said not one of the large clients use MySQL on Windows, it has always had just a few developers working on Windows, and it has a direct, free rival there.
"This means that there is very little money to be made on the Windows side for MySQL. They are not going to make a profit there. The big money is on the Linux side where MySQL already successfully competes with Oracle, and where MySQL has put all their efforts during the last 10 years," Widenius said.
Clients of MySQL, who wished not to be quoted due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters they have been switching between Oracle and MySQL databases for their different applications, based on changing business needs.
They also said they are worried about the position of the rival database in the future product roadmap of Oracle.
Widenius said he was worried his creation could be killed. "It is easier to use and it's cheaper -- if cheapness was be removed, the attractiveness decreases," Widenius said.
Donald Feinberg, an analyst at Gartner, said that any attempt by Oracle to kill MySQL would fail as with open source software others could take the code, re-name it and create their own versions, as has happened before.
Widenius said that while the code could be easily copied, the main problem was the ecosystem around MySQL -- companies making business from it, developing it and using it.
"If it would be easy to fork (copy) it, no-one would have paid a billion dollars for it."
(Additional reporting by David Lawsky in San Francisco; editing by Simon Jessop)
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