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SkySQL nabs Monty Program to form MariaDB powerhouse

Merger unites veteran MySQL developers, consultants

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Open source database consultancy SkySQL has announced a merger with Monty Program Ab, the company that develops the MariaDB database, in a move that reunites key members from the original MySQL development and services teams.

The merged company, which will keep the SkySQL name, will continue to market MariaDB, a drop-in compatible fork of the MySQL database server that includes additional features and performance enhancements.

MariaDB was created in 2009 by original MySQL author Ulf Michael "Monty" Widenius, who had been lead developer at MySQL AB until its acquisition by Sun Microsystem in 2008. Widenius quit shortly before Sun was itself snapped up by database giant Oracle the following year, and went on to form Monty Program on his own.

Since then, he has been vocally critical of Oracle's management of MySQL, which he sees as having strayed too far from the product's open source roots.

Among other things, Oracle has switched MySQL development to an "open core" model, where the base product is offered as open source but certain components are available only as proprietary add-ons. It has also jacked up its support fees for commercial versions of the database.

Wary of such changes, a growing number of customers have already switched from MySQL to MariaDB. Most notably, a variety of Linux distributions have begun shipping MariaDB by default in place of MySQL, including Arch Linux, FedoraOpenSuse, and Slackware, among others.

Meanwhile, Widenius has been recruiting developers to work on his MariaDB fork at Monty Program, many of whom were MySQL developers from the early days of the project. Following the merger, that team will join the team of sales and support staff at SkySQL, many of whom are also MySQL AB veterans.

"By bringing on board the talented MariaDB developer team, SkySQL proposes a comprehensive partnership to leading open source database users," SkySQL CEO Patrik Sallner, who will continue to lead the combined company, said in a canned statement. "We are committed to develop MariaDB into the most versatile open source database."

Simultaneous with the announcement of the merger, the MariaDB Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the MariaDB code base, announced that Monty Widenius had accepted a role as its first chief technology officer.

In addition, SkySQL announced that it has joined the MariaDB Foundation and said it will collaborate closely with the group, contributing money and other resources.

"With this merger and my own role in the MariaDB Foundation, I'm ensuring that the MariaDB project will remain 'open source forever'," Widenius said in a statement, "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."

Terms of the merger were not disclosed, but assuming all goes well, it is expected to close in around four months. ®

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