Look out, Oracle: SkySQL and MariaDB join forces

Oracle's MySQL may be the most well-known open-source DBMS, but now, MySQL's creators are together again with the merger of MariaDB and SkySQL.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

When Oracle bought Sun, one of its reasons was to gain control of MySQL, the most popular open-source database management system (DBMS). It didn't work. Some of MySQL's founders and top programmers had already left to create the MySQL fork, MariaDB, while others started SkySQL, a MySQL and MariaDB support company. Now, the old core MySQL developers have rejoined forces.

SkySQL is now MariaDB's champion.
Image: SkySQL

On April 23, SkySQL announced that it had signed a merger agreement with Monty Program Ab, MariaDB's parent company. The aim of this new company, which will go under the name SkySQL, is to develop MariaDB into a truly interoperable "NewSQL" open-source database in collaboration with its customers, partners, and the community. The community side will continue as the MariaDB Foundation.

According to the newly merged company:

MariaDB is truly open source and is compatible with the MySQL database while providing new extensions and features. Customers and users move to MariaDB for its performance. It is uniquely capable of interfacing with NoSQL database systems like Cassandra and LevelDB, as well as to access data in other formats thanks to pluggable storage engines. This allows customers to leverage the capabilities of the latest database technologies as well as access data in legacy systems without expensive and risky database migrations. This merger brings cloud and big data capabilities together, which will enable the new company to become an interface for fellow open-source technology providers.

MariaDB will continue to be open source, according to Simon Phipps, the new CEO of the MariaDB Foundation. SkySQL is also joining the Foundation. Phipps said, "It is a pleasure to have a company representing the reunited core team of our code base joining the Foundation at its inception. The MariaDB Foundation welcomes SkySQL as a member. Throughout this time of change for MariaDB, they have been a great source of encouragement, and the commitment today's news shows to the MariaDB Project is especially welcome."

Michael 'Monty' Widenius, author of MySQL and MariaDB, said in a statement:

I'm ensuring that the MariaDB project will remain 'open source forever', while knowing that enterprise and community users of both the MySQL and MariaDB databases will benefit from best-in-breed products, services, and support provided by SkySQL. And who doesn't want the best for their kids?

Patrik Sallner, SkySQL's CEO, added in the same statement: "By bringing on board the talented MariaDB developer team, SkySQL proposes a comprehensive partnership to leading open source database users. We are committed to develop MariaDB into the most versatile open source database. We look forward to working with the MariaDB Foundation as they engage with developers and users of MariaDB, as well as with their important mission of ensuring the independence of the MariaDB project itself."

Now, you might think, "That's all very well and good, but Oracle is a multi-billion Goliath of a company. How can SkySQL hope to compete?" Actually, MariaDB, its primary DBMS is already doing extremely well.

Major Linux distributions, such as Fedora and openSUSE, are moving to MariaDB. It's not just fellow open-source bodies, though, that are supporting MariaDB. WikiMedia announced on April 22 that they have completed the migration of the English and German Wikipedias to MariaDB. Why? Because, MariaDB is faster.

Wikipedia site architect, Asher Feldman, wrote:

For our most common query type, 95th percentile times over an 8-hour period dropped from 56ms to 43ms, and the average from 15.4ms to 12.7ms. 50th percentile times remained a bit better with the 5.1-Facebook build over the sample period, 0.185ms vs. 0.194ms. Many query types were 4-15 percent faster with MariaDB 5.5.30 under production load, a few were 5 percent slower, and nothing appeared aberrant beyond those bounds.

With those kind of performance gains, Oracle, after its poor last quarter, may be the company that really needs to worry.

Sallner will lead the merged company as CEO, while Widenius will be the MariaDB Foundation's CTO. The merger is expected to close in about four months. Commercial terms were not disclosed.

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