A few months ago, we’ve pondered the future of MySQL post the Oracle/Sun acquisition. Our verdict was: the MySQL market was where it was getting hot, with MySQL caught in crossfire.

The MySQL kitchen just got even hotter with more cooks joining. Meet SkySQL – a company built by the original, pre-Sun, pre-Oracle MySQL family of veterans.

MySQL under Oracle and Impact on the CMS Market

Many people have been concerned about the future of the open source MySQL database. One need not go far to find statements like "I hope [Oracle] don't try to ruin MySQL now."

MySQL is hugely popular in the content management space, especially for the lower end of the market. Many simpler products like XOOPS, Mambo, Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress, CMS Made Simple and TYPO3 rely almost exclusively on it.

A good number of mid and upper tier WCM and ECM products also build on MySQL — Bitrix, EMC/Documentum, eZ Publish, Jahia, KnowledgeTree and Alfresco are all members of the club.

Given that Oracle makes a significant percentage of its revenue on software support, the MySQL strategy is not an outlier at Redwood Shores.

Customers highly reliant on the MySQL database (yet not entirely comfortable with the Oracle relationship) are the target audience for SkySQL.

And Here Comes Competition Against Oracle Almighty

SkySQL is a recently launched company with Helsinki HQ that offers software, services and support for the MySQL database clients in direct competition with Oracle's services and support of MySQL.
SkySQL is lead by a family of MySQL veterans, including:

  • CEO – Ulf Sandberg (former VP of Professional Services at MySQL AB)
  • EVP of Products – Kai Arnö (former VP of Community at MySQL AB)
  • Chairman – Ralf Wahlsten (investor in MySQL AB, investor in SkySQL Ab)
  • Board Of Directors – Patrick Backman (former MySQL AB executive, investor in SkySQL Ab)
  • Advisor – David Axmark (co-founder of MySQL AB)

We spoke with Ulf Sandberg, who joined MySQL in 2004. He said:

When Sun was acquired by Oracle... MySQL supporters were rightfully anxious that growing the bottom line of big business would take precedence over further investment in the development of the MySQL franchise. In our view, progress of MySQL’s technology has been stymied, leading to a mass exodus for those involved in the technology. SkySQL has become a new haven for MySQL expertise...

Why SkySQL and Not Oracle?

Many former MySQLers gasp about the first acquiring company Sun and don't trust the second -- Oracle. Reminiscing about what they were allowed to do in the true sense of being open source, they decide to try other ways of being the true MySQL again.

SkySQL see the issue with Oracle in its way of making money, as Oracle marches on, doing things as according to their DNA. “Doing what we used to do, what we loved to do,” is how Sandberg describes the new business.

SkySQL’s goal is to fill the void left by Oracle when they ignored the MySQL partner ecosystem, channel and community instead of embracing and extending it.

Interestingly, SkySQL also plans to support the MariaDB – another open source database offering and a branch of MySQL. As well as working with clients on cloud deployments, with the goal of becoming the default database for the cloud, which in itself is not that interesting, but shows the level of their commitment to MySQL in all flavors.

SkySQL plans to launch various levels of subscriptions, as well as training and professional services. Without disclosing the actual prices, they say it is all very dependent on the client -- meaning they don't want to sell too cheap, nor do they want to scare away potential clients with their price tag.

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SkySQL enterprise subscription leveles

The question is (even though there’s a lot of value proposition on the table) will the old passion drive the new vehicle? With plenty of opportunities (especially, given Oracle's DNA), we shall see how it goes.