Another globally distributed cloud native SQL database on the rise: Yugabyte Raises $30 million in Series B Funding

Your good old on-premise SQL database is in terminal decline. Being a pure-play open-source cloud-native PostgreSQL, while offering Apache Cassandra and GraphQL interfaces, is what you need, says Yugabyte.
Written by George Anadiotis, Contributor

It's not a coincidence -- it's a trend. Another globally distributed cloud native SQL database is getting a hefty amount of funding. This time, it's Yugabyte. Yugabyte, a company founded by Facebook data infrastructure veterans, today announced that it has raised $30 million in an oversubscribed Series B round.

The round, led by 8VC, also includes participation from a strategic investor, Wipro Ventures, and existing investors, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. The round brings the company's total funding to $55 million. Yugabyte also adds Scott Yara, co-founder and former SVP of Products of Pivotal Software, to its board of directors.

"Legacy source-of-truth databases form the beating heart of enterprises, and their movement to the cloud has just begun. This massive market deserves a product as beautifully architected and operable as the Yugabyte platform, and as formidable a team led by developer legends as Kannan Muthukkaruppan, Karthik Ranganathan and Mikhail Bautin," said Bhaskar Ghosh, Partner and CTO at 8VC.

ZDNet connected with Yugabyte founders Kannan Muthukkaruppan and Karthik Ranganathan, and newly recruited CEO Bill Cook, previously of Sun Microsystems and Pivotal, for a deep dive in the company, the funding, and the market.

Applications are moving to the cloud, databases are following suit

Yugabyte's commercial products include the Yugabyte Platform, a self-managed private database-as-a-service offering available on any public, private, or hybrid cloud or Kubernetes infrastructure and Yugabyte Cloud, a fully-managed database service currently available on AWS and Google Cloud.

Yugabyte was founded in 2016. Its founders met at Facebook, where they worked on Facebook's high scale data infrastructure, including having worked on Apache Cassandra and Apache HBase before they were either open sourced or successful, said Muthukkaruppan.

The goal was to put mission-critical applications like Facebook Messenger on a data tier that was elastic, easy to manage and operate, and able to handle data center failures. The Yugabyte team realized that as applications are moving to the cloud, databases should follow suit, and set out on that mission -- a globally distributed database in the cloud, for cloud-based applications.

In the past five years, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud have seen their annual revenues grow exponentially, from $7 billion to $70 billion. IDC predicts next year will be the "year of multi-cloud," driven by digital transformation acceleration due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Gartner predicts that in 2022 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform.


Yugabyte is a globally distributed cloud native database with some interesting features

Yugabyte's press release emphasizes that worldwide database management system (DBMS) revenue is growing to $46 billion in 2018 alone, and adoption for new applications of legacy databases is in terminal decline. Therefore, there is an immediate market need for a cloud-neutral database that adapts to any cloud and on-premises environment.

As we have seen here on Big on Data, Yugabyte is not the first vendor to come up with that idea. To begin with, there is a big NoSQL crowd that is already there, or close, in one way or another. And then we have the SQL crowd too. CockroachDB and FaunaDB come to mind, just to stick to some of the ones we have covered so far.

Then, of course, there are the Google Spanners and the Azure CosmosDBs of the world: SQL-based cloud-native databases, offered by cloud vendors. The obvious downside there is, good as they may be, you can't do multi-cloud and hybrid cloud with those.

Frankly, this is quite a nuanced discussion. The reason we are mentioning it is to show that this market is big, it's growing, and there's plenty of competition and options. Yugabyte's team is well aware of this, pointing out the fact that when we talk about databases, we're looking at a $50 billion to $60 billion market. Getting a piece of that looked both possible and appealing for Yugabyte's investors.

Crowded market, non-zero-sum game

We asked Ranganathan point-blank -- what made Yugabyte's investors vote with their dollars, in the face of such hard competition? Much of it has got to be the team, said Ranganathan.

Yugabyte founders go back to the days of working with Oracle and other relational databases, and have the experience of building, operating, and scaling mission-critical data infrastructure from the ground up. They also have experience in building companies, he went on to add, citing their stint at Nutanix. Another key element is the technical architecture, Ranganathan said:

"The market we're addressing is the market of people building applications, transactional applications. What is the database most often picked in order to build these applications? It will have to PostgreSQL. It just always ends up there. A lot of people are using PostgreSQL to build their applications. However, their application is being built for the cloud or a cloud-native environment like Kubernetes.

It requires scale-out, like the ability to add more nodes in order to survive more requests and scale back down when needed. It also requires the ability to go and deploy data across zones, across regions, hybrid deployments, etc. So, if you combine those three with PostgresSQL, what you get is a null set. There's no solution that exists that can do all of these today, cloud vendors included."

Cloud computing

A new generation of cloud native databases is on the rise

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Ranganathan went on to compare Yugabyte against the closest competition, Cockroach DB and Fauna DB, in what is a nuanced discussion including parameters such as open-source licenses, community, growth, replication protocols, and all sorts of things CTOs should be aware of. That's a bit too much to report on here, but if you're interested, you will soon be able to catch the full discussion on the Orchestrate all the Things podcast.

The message from Yugabyte's team is rather clear though: build your application on PostgreSQL, deploy it on Yugabyte anywhere. Interestingly, however, SQL is not all there is to Yugabyte. Yugabyte also offers an Apache Cassandra compatible API, in an obvious effort to onboard Cassandra users. Others like ScyllaDB, AWS and Azure CosmosDB offer this, too.

In addition, Yugabyte also offers a GraphQL layer, via a partnership with Hasura. In another nuanced analysis, Ranganathan went over what he sees as the 3 types of GraphQL layers for databases: generic ones, likes Apollo, PostgreSQL specific, like Hasura, and a combined GraphQL plus database play, like FaunaDB. Except for the third category, he went on to add, Yugabyte is open to working with all vendors.

As far as Yugabyte's future plans are concerned, the goal is to double down on community and team growth. Support for some analytics workloads is in the roadmap, too. This is a crowded market, but big enough to be a non-zero-sum game. Yugabyte is worth keeping an eye on. 

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