Business

Open source, says me: Alibaba chucks MariaDB a $27m funding round

Chinese biz links up database tech with cloud platform

By Rebecca Hill

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Chinese Amazon-chaser Alibaba has chucked a chunk of cash at open-source-database-flinger MariaDB, leading a $27m funding round in the biz.

Alibaba is already a core sponsor of the MariaDB Foundation, and the Finnish company already offers Database-as-a-Service solutions on Alibaba Cloud.

The continued partnership will give it more access to MariaDB's footprint in industry as it claims more than 60 million devs, many of which are based in Europe.

CTO Michael Widenius is one of the creators of MySQL. He forked MySQL back in 2009 amid concerns about how Oracle would use it once it was effectively acquired through Big Red's purchase of Sun Microsystems.

Alibaba is pitching itself as a rival to AWS and Microsoft Azure in the cloud space, with its cloud division reporting growth of 138 per cent, to $468m, in the 2016 financial year.

It has made no secret of its intention to boost its European footprint, and announced plans to set up its first data centre on the continent, in Frankfurt, last November.

However, deputy director for international government and public affairs Lin Luo told Bloomberg last month that Europe was "really a weak region for us".

The firm's vice-president of cloud, Jin Li, said of the MariaDB investment: "We believe that the symbiotic relationships found in the open-source community contribute to the success of both MariaDB's database technology and our cloud platform, and we have an opportunity to build some truly innovative solutions for cloud, on premise and hybrid deployments."

MariaDB gained €25m from the European Investment Bank in February this year, taking its 2017 funding round total to $54m.

Forrester principal analyst Charlie Dai said that, as a heavyweight in China's public cloud market, Alibaba Cloud was "proactively exploring overseas markets".

MariaDB is one of the credible open source alternatives to MySQL, gaining much support from enterprise customers. "Alibaba’s investment in MariaDB is a strategic move in global enterprise market."

Holger Mueller, Constellation Research veep and principal analyst, said databases are strategic for all enterprises by default for cloudy infrastructure providers.

He claimed the move might be "just good financial investing".

Mueller added: "locking up MariaDB would not help the open source and MySQL community - so a 'buy ups' strategy by alibaba is unlikely and as things stand right now commercially foolish." ®

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