Recently SkySQL announced itself to the world with its focus being on former Sun MySQL customers. This comes in the aftermath of Sun being bought by Oracle and the subsequent departures of former Sun executives and engineers before and after the purchase. I recently had a chance to talk with Ulf Sandberg the new CEO of SkySQL for a few minutes.
Q: It looks to me that most, if not all of the original architects of MySQL are either invested in or an active part of SkySQL.
A: Yes, both co-founders and OnCorps as well as Open Ocean Capital, which is comprised of some of the founders of and investors in MySQL Ab as well. – OnCorps being major investor, they wanted the most for their money and they will be involved in keeping us focused on sales and revenue. Bob Suh, CEO and Founder of OnCorps who used to be at accenture wanted to be in on it. We have almost all of the core developers and support team and we are selling that to our prospective customers. Knowing that most of the people you used to get support and service from are here at SkySQL makes it a much easier choice for them.
Q: I take it you are actively selling your services to all your old customers at Sun and MySQL then, how is that going?
A: “We’re back”, we are telling people that MySQL took a break but now we’re up and running again. To our customers, they have an alternative for pricing and services as compared to Oracle and can decide for themselves what is best. I think everyone can see what is going on with Oracle and with us in the market now they have a choice as to who they want to get their support and services from going into the future.
Q: So having already done business with them as Sun they were familiar with you and you philosophy correct?
A: The ecosystem and partners want to talk to people they know, along with the commitment to open source and keeping the code open. Most companies do not want to be hostage to one vendor, especially one that charges a lot for their products and service. They now have an alternative in SkySQL and we have already received a number of requests from companies that would rather be with the original MySQL team and our reasonable pricing model and not hand cuffed by Oracle. They also do not trust that Oracle will supoort open source and MySQL down the road but will try to upsell them as soon as they can to more expensive but typically not needed product.
Q: It seems obvious that the takeover of Sun by Oracle lit a fire to make this happen. A lot of people think it was Oracle’s attitude towards the developers that did it, MySQL started bleeding execs and devs even before the sale to Oracle was official.
A: We saw what was going on and decided it was best to go in another direction. The deal took a long time to close and some MySQL folks were already leaving prior to completion. We did expect Oracle to continue with the acquisition, similar to what they have done to other companies they bought. They have no prior experience of open source nor interest as evident from how OpenSolaris, OpenOffice and as of lately Java has been managed by Oracle.
Q: Is Oracle really committed to MySQL?
A: Depends on who you ask, they are really focused on sales..
Q: Isn’t the writing on wall for MySQL?
A: Sun had soft gloves, maybe too soft. Oracle is much more about “Here is what you are going to do and how your going to do it.” and it just is not how we feel it should be done. How could Oracle balance both their enterprise database offerings which are very expensive with the popular MySQL database in their accounts? Their sales people just don’t want MySQL in their accounts and become a threat to their high price. They might say they are supporting MySQL externally but in reality, there is such an internal conflict that it likely can not happen.
After reading this article by Henrik Ingo and talking to Ulf I think that there is more than enough room in the ‘MySQL” world for SkySQL to not only survive, but thrive as well. If there is one thing I have learned it is that there is a ton of talented people who can code SQL and if you can find and keep them, you’re going to be alright.