Home Business IT Open Source SkySQL launches to steal Oracle's thunder

Spurred by the uncertainty created by Oracle over MySQL, a group of former employees of MySQL AB has come together to form a support and services firm for the database.


Operating under the name SkySQL, the group is headed by former MySQL senior vice-president of global services, Ulf Sandberg, and counts in its ranks, as adviser, David Axmark, one of the three co-founders of the open source database.

Sandberg worked for MySQL from 2004 until 2009 when he left after Sun had acquired the company. He told iTWire that a few weeks after he left, Oracle announced its plans to buy Sun.

"There was a degree of alarm among MySQL old-timers because we know Oracle," he said. "We heard rumours about features that would be available for a price and closed features."

He said he, and a group of the old MySQL staff, had sat down and talked about the situation during the US summer. "I spoke to Monty (Widenius, another co-founder of MySQL) and Axmark. We realised that there was a void which could be filled by doing what MySQL was doing in the days before it was bought by Sun."

Sandberg said the group had had to wait until it had sufficient people and funding to offer the necessary services. The company will officially launch tomorrow.

He said that by Christmas it would be evident whether the company was making headway. It plans to offer support for both the Oracle version of MySQL and the version created by Monty, which is named Maria DB. Asked whether SkySQL would offer support for Drizzle, a fork of the MySQL codebase created by Brian Aker, Sandberg said nothing had been finalised.

The basic plan is to try and get all the old MySQL customers back with the promise that SkySQL will treat them in the same way they were once looked after. There are no plans to create another fork of MySQL.

Apart from Axmark and Sandberg, other old MySQL hands who are part of SkySQL include Kai Arno (executive vice-president at SkySQL and former community vice-president at MySQL), Ralf Wahlsten (chairman and investor in SkySQL, formerly an investor in MySQL) and Patrick Backman (director and investor at SkySQL and former MySQL executive).

The lead investor in the new company is OnCorps, as well as Open Ocean Capital, the latter being comprised of some founders of, and investors in, MySQL. SkySQL will initially operate in 11 countries, including Australia.

Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems last year and finalised the acquisition in January 2010. Since then, the open source projects it inherited as part of the sale have not done too well - OpenSolaris has been effectively closed, leading to a fork, OpenOffice.org has forked as LibreOffice and Java founder James Gosling has left Oracle.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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