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Oracle MySQL Investment Aims at Microsoft

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(Reuters) – In a bid to woo customers from rival Microsoft Corp, Oracle Corp will boost investment in the widely used MySQL open-source database that it acquired with its January purchase of Sun Microsystems.

Edward Screven, Oracle’s chief corporate architect, said in an interview that the company will add new functions to the software and improve its performance.

“We are increasing our investment in MySQL… on every front,” he said prior to unveiling Oracle’s strategy for MySQL at a software conference in California on Tuesday.

Screven declined to provide specific figures for investment in development of the product.

Already the world’s biggest player in the $19-billion-a-year database market, Oracle believes that it can boost overall database sales by making MySQL more competitive with Microsoft’s SQL Server.

Oracle’s flagship database, Oracle Database, is a high-end program that corporations and government agencies use to store and quickly analyze massive quantities of critical information. It primarily competes with a database from IBM known as DB2.

The acquisition of MySQL gave Oracle an entry into other parts of the market, such as selling to small to mid-sized businesses and companies running websites.

“MySQL competes a lot and often with SQL Server. It makes sense for us as a company… to make sure it lines up well with SQL Server,” Screven said.

ITIC analyst Laura DiDio said that MySQL and SQL Server are fundamentally similar, but that the Oracle product is not as robust as the one from Microsoft.

“SQL Server’s strength is in its features,” she said.

Screven said that Oracle has already started adding new features to MySQL. He was scheduled to discuss them at the O’Reilly MySQL Conference and Expo in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday.

News that Oracle is boosting investment in MySQL might come as a surprise to some.

The European Union delayed Oracle’s $7.5 billion purchase of Sun for months over concern that Oracle would slow development of MySQL in a bid to pressure its users to buy Oracle’s high-end product.

MySQL is an open-source program that is available at no cost. It generates revenue from subscriptions for upgrades, bug fixes and call center support as well as tools that companies use to manage the software.

Copyright 2010 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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