Why we should all start switching to MariaDB

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I had the opportunity to assist to a talk by Joffrey Michaie, principal consultant for SkySQL AB, a company specialised in the MariaDB database. It was an inspiring talk introducing a next-generation, free relational database that in my mind, will start to replace MySQL.

Why another DBMS though? Don’t we already have enough?

Here’s why:

  • When Oracle took over MySQL AB from Sun, it raised competition concerns from the EU, and as a result, made some promises – MySQL would be offered for free, until December 2014. Today, this is not entirely true, since there is a growing divide between MySQL Enterprise Edition and the Community Edition. It is still unclear what Oracle plans to do after December 2014, but I’m willing to bet Oracle will push to monetise and deepen the schism between its commercial and free offerings. It’s only natural that Oracle further its own commercial interests – a company would want to make the most out of its multibillion dollar acquisition after all.
  • Now, remarkably, MySQL, under Oracle management, started to lose large numbers of its core mySQL developers and consultants – who were dissatisfied with the stifling company culture and slowing pace of innovation. Some of them went on to form SkySQL and the Monty Program. These two have subsequently merged.
  • Even the original creators of MySQL are disillusioned with Oracle’s way of running things, and are now actively backing and working on MariaDB.
  • This article provides a more in-depth explanation of the thinking behind MariaDB. It’s an interview with one of the MySQL founders.

Feature-wise, this what piques my interest:

  1. Drop-in replacement for MySQL. Full compatibility.
  2. The XtraDB and CSV storage engines.
  3. Virtual Columns. But then, what about normalisation?
  4. Query Optimiser. It automatically rewrites unoptimised SQL queries on-the-fly. I’ve previously had developers post up bounties to optimise long-running queries on Drupal. This will help a lot with those complex queries.
  5. Transaction Auditing.
  6. Logging of all access – reads, inserts… This could have interesting uses when paired with an IDS to detect abnormal usage behaviour within a database.

I’m going to be doing a lot more research and evaluate it on my computer with Vagrant or Docker. I need to research databases in particular – I have a feeling I have still a lot more to learn about these mythical beasts which power every modern application. I’m not a sysadmin, but I don’t have the luxury of choosing while working in a startup.

By the way, I have to add that MariaDB could use a much better designed website on mariadb.org. And a better logo. Actually, much better marketing across the board. Its website on mariadb.com isn’t too bad in comparison, but it could still use better visuals.

Randomly, I also spoke to Joffrey and a friend of his over beers about their passion for diving. I’m thinking of trying it out myself, and I’ve just been informed it costs Rs1600 to try at Flic-en-Flac. I’m going to try it out. Why not? 🙂 I’m always open to new things. And besides, it’ll give me something cool to do when I go backpacking through Asia next year.



    • Thanks! Nice to see you too. I’m think I’m going to become a MariaDB evangelist from now on lol!

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