Michael "Monty" Widenius' relationship with MySQL, the database named after his oldest daughter, has been difficult since his company (MySQL AB) was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008. It only fractured further when Oracle acquired Sun. But now Widenius is bringing much of his old team back together as he plots a fully open-source fork of MySQL. He hopes the new initiative will both keep core developers paid and grow the community for MariaDBЧa fork of MySQL 5.1 named after Widenius' younger daughterЧas it begins to diverge even more from the functionality of Oracle's MySQL.
Widenius' Monty Program has merged with SkySQL, the company that provides commercial support for MariaDB and other MySQL variants. SkySQL was founded by former employees of MySQL AB who left after the Sun acquisition. The organization offers enterprise support subscriptions for MySQL and its variantsЧcompeting directly with Oracle's MySQL Enterprise licensing. The merged company will support all versions of MySQL, develop MySQL and MariaDB tools, and fund further development of MariaDB.
In a release, Widenius said, "With this merger, IТm ensuring that the MariaDB project will remain Сopen 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 doesnТt want the best for their children?"
All of this comes as big Web players are taking a hard look at their database investments. The buzz around the "NoSQL" database movement has begun to see a backlash. Late last year, Google announced its own efforts to shift back toward SQL database technology with its Spanner distributed SQL database research. And many read-heavy websites (such as Ars, for instance) have moved back to MySQL and other open-source SQL databases after dalliances with NoSQL.
The merger announcement comes on the heels of Wikipedia's adoption of MariaDB as a replacement for another fork of MySQL maintained by Facebook. Wikimedia Foundation Site Architect Asher Feldman announced the adoption of MariaDB in a post yesterday, saying that the move was in part because of "a preference for (open source) projects without bifurcated code bases between differently licensed free and enterprise editions." (That's a reference to how Oracle has moved to keep enterprise functionality of its "official" MySQL code line proprietary.)
As a result of the merger, Widenius himself is stepping aside from the business of running the company. In December, Widenius moved to split the roles of Monty Program between business and non-profit operations by forming the MariaDB FoundationЧa nonprofit organization intended to serve as the center of the MariaDB community and the holder of its GNU General Public License. Widenius took the role of foundation CTO. Earlier this month, Simon Phipps was brought on as the foundation's secretary and interim CEO. He's the president of the Open Source Initiative and former head of Sun's open source program.
Phipps told Ars that the MariaDB Foundation was modeled on the Eclipse Foundation, the entity that maintains the Eclipse open-source integrated software development environment. "We've recruited (Eclipse Foundation executive director) Mike Millinkovich as a board advisor," Phipps said. "We're just about to add one of the core committers on MariaDB to the board, and then we'll have six board members." The foundation will have "representative governance," Phipps added, with funding and support from corporate members of the MariaDB community.