Laziness and hate drove me to invent my storage engine concept, says MariaDB's CTO

Monty Widenius chats with El Reg at the Big Data London conference

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Interview Monty Widenius, the Finnish author of MySQL and now the CTO at MariaDB — a fork of MySQL — told The Register how laziness and hate drove him to add open source columnar storage engine ColumnStore, to MariaDB.

Earlier this year, amid preparations for its last funding round before potentially going public, the biz released its storage engine ColumnStore under the GPLv2. The component plugs into Widenius's storage engine API and is intended to allow massively parallel distributed query execution and data loading within MariaDB, in a realtime fashion compared to Hadoop's batch queries.

Speaking to The Register at the Big Data London conference this month, Widenius said it was "basically an accident that I created this storage engine concept. And that was mostly because I was lazy myself."

"I hate upgrades," explained Widenius, revealing that the process of upgrading customers' storage software exhausted him, and so he "basically enabled them to use the old storage and the new storage" at the same time.

ColumnStore, based on a fork of InfiniDB, allows MariaDB users to execute their analytic queries in a distributed manner. "That's the one piece that we've been missing in the MariaDB ecosystem," said Widenius, "to be able to handle terabytes or even petabytes of data efficiently for analytical queries."

"We can accommodate both OLTP and OLAP in a better fashion than anybody else at this point in time, and everything is open source so we are in a good position," added Monty, who regards himself as very much a proponent of open source software, despite some recent criticism.

Unlike ColumnStore, which is released under the GPLv2, MariaDB's MaxScale product was created to generate revenue and its 2.0 release debuted under Widenius's own Business Source License (BSL), which he has been evangelising for the last four years.

While retaining the commercial commitments that MaxScale was created to meet, BSL allows MariaDB to keep MaxScale open-sourced and requires those using MaxScale with three or more database servers to pay MariaDB for the privilege.

Monty said he sees the BSL "as the best way to promote open source" contrary to the accusation that the licence would encourage companies to make their open-source code closed.

"So the BSL is for the smaller companies who want to grow and compete with closed-source companies," Widenius explained. "The problem we have in Finland is if you're a small company, three or four persons, and you're going to try to sell your product to Nokia" you're going to be in a bit of trouble.

The issue is that Nokia "would just say you're too little, we can't buy it, there's no guarantee that you will survive," said Widenius, "but if they have BSL they know that the software will survive because it's available, so then there's less risk to buy it."

"The intention is for the closed-source companies to have a way to get the benefits of open source and at the same time be able to survive," said Widenius, "and also over time create more open source."

"People like to misunderstand," the CTO added, "especially if they're from the competition." ®


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