SkySQL CEO Patrik Sallner on MariaDB, MySQL and why structured data won’t go away

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Patrik Sallner, the CEO of Finnish database proprietor SkySQL, wants to make something clear. His company’s latest product, MariaDB Enterprise, was not designed with a certain Redwood-based relational database provider in mind.

“We’re not specifically targeting Oracle or anybody else here,” he tells CloudTech. “We’re just making an offering available which we clearly know there’s a strong demand for.”

This appears to be the company line, although other tech outlets, from The Register to ZDNet, thought otherwise.

The MariaDB Enterprise product, announced last week, is built upon the open source MariaDB Server and Galera Cluster software, on the Linux OS, and is offered as a renewable one year subscription package either on-premise, virtualised or in cloud.

Sallner instead describes the update as “something which is feasible for somebody without deep MySQL expertise”.

The product’s high availability comes from being able to cluster databases without a single point of failure – with Galera Cluster used as the safety net.

Yet the plan is evidently to move customers over from MySQL to MariaDB, although Sallner notes the importance of serving the “tens of millions of users” in the MySQL market.

“As we’re introducing MariaDB as the new adoption MariaDB is accelerating, and hopefully will surpass MySQL very soon,” Sallner explains, adding: “The fact that MariaDB and MySQL are compatible with each other is obviously a huge benefit for us compared to many other new players with the new technology.

 “When developing new releases of MariaDB, we’re confident that it comes with significant advantages and we have a bigger proportion both of existing customers switching to MariaDB,” Sallner explains.

“The majority of our new customers come in either because they want to move to MariaDB or because they’re already using MariaDB and want to work with us as a partner.”

Sallner cites Google’s move over to MariaDB as a turning point – and predicts the surge to continue thick and fast from there.

“We now see a very strong momentum of customers, not only coming from MySQL, but we also have a lot of customers moving from Oracle, Microsoft, IBM databases to MariaDB because it’s truly open source and a high performance database, and we obviously see great potential going forward for extending the reach and adoption, as well as the performance of the database,” he says.

So SkySQL isn’t directly targeting Oracle, but they’re happy to accept its customers.

Sallner admits that the database figures of the big legacy players are going down – as much as they would allow.

“There isn’t really room for software licences in the lower layers of the infrastructure,” he explains. “You want that all open source nowadays, and I think 10 years ago it was natural that any company that had a database had to pay to get that licence – it was very common, and databases were strategic in among themselves.”

But he wouldn’t go as far as saying the relational database was dead – because structured data will still have its uses.

“The explosion in data has been happening much more on the unstructured side, which is why all the NoSQL databases have emerged because they optimise purely for the unstructured stuff,” Sallner argues. “But that doesn’t mean that structured data will go away, or that the demand for relational databases will go away.

“If you think about your mobile subscription, that is very structured data. It’s the same thing when you go shopping on Amazon, there’s a huge relational database there of all the different products, and all the transactions, and everything else.

“That need is also growing constantly; it’s not all at the same magnitude of the unstructured stuff but structured data is substantially more valuable than unstructured data, and so what you see is that both are growing.”

Whether attacking Redwood or not, SkySQL is betting on a fancied horse with MariaDB – as Jeff Cogswell put it on Slashdot, “MariaDB shows every indication that it will be around for quite a while, while you can’t really say the same of…MySQL.”

But what’s your view? You can find out more on MariaDB Enterprise from SkySQL here.

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