This week, database giant Oracle made some minor concessions to EU regulators that appear to have cleared the way for the company to purchase Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion. At issue was Sun's ownership of the open-source MySQL database, which regulators feared would suffer under Oracle's tutelage.

Oracle told the EU that it would invest heavily in MySQL and would, in fact, spend more in the next three years improving it than Sun did in the previous three. It also pledged to ensure that MySQL works with third-party storage engines and to keep a hands-off approach with MySQL customers and not try to coerce them into buying support services, as is often the case with Oracle's high-end database customers.

The EU said that it has had "constructive discussions" with Oracle about MySQL and these concessions represent "an important new element" in its review of the Oracle/Sun deal. Outgoing competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said she is now "optimistic" that the European Commission will approve the Sun purchase by the end of January 2010. The deal has already been approved by US regulators