MariaDB and the Quest for Oracle Freedom

People really don’t like Oracle. Enough so that SkySQL just got $20 Million in funding from Intel to help it continue to build a MySQL alternative. Now personally I don’t have the hatred that a lot of people do for Oracle, but when I look at the pricing and service offerings around Oracle’s database, Solaris operating system, and even things like ATG, I know that we can offer them comperable solutions at half the price, with far better service, so I get why people want to try to find alternatives to Oracle.

But here is what I don’t get. This week I went to the All Things Open conference and while I was there, I happened to catch the tail end of a SkySQL talk on new MariaDB features. One of the features that he was describing apparently has issues if you work with MyISAM tables, so he asked how many people in the crowd used MyISAM. Not a single person raised their hand. For most database folks, this isn’t surprising; for most people doing traditional RDBMS work, you want an MVCC based system of some kind, so people using InnoDB seems like the logical choice. The problem here is, if your community is built around the idea of being free of Oracle, I think there is a problem if your user base is completely built around a technology still owned by Oracle.

So what are these investors buying with thier $20 million? If you are trying to secure the future of your database choice, I think this is a swing and a miss. Sure, MariaDB of today is better than MySQL of back then, but from a technology control standpoint, all you’ve done is buy yourself a ticket back to 2005, when Oracle first purchased Innobase and left MySQL scrambling. Any argument that you can make that the MariaDB community doesn’t have to worry about this is basically an argument for why MySQL users might as well stick with Oracle MySQL. I suppose that $20 million might buy another attempt at a new storage engine, but we’ve been down that road before, and it’s not pretty.

PS. If you’ve got $20 million and a desire to help Solaris users get free of Oracle, the OmniOS team would be happy to cash that check.