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Xpand your horizons: MariaDB launches distributed query engine into proprietary DBaaS

But beware lock-in-as-a-service, consultant warns

MariaDB has added proprietary bells and whistles, in the form of distributed SQL, for its DBaaS and supposedly developer-friendly front end.

The biz supporting the open-source MySQL-derived database introduced its DBaaS SkySQL last year and has now announced the general availability of its distributed SQL as one of the engines in MariaDB's SkySQL system, said CMO Franz Aman.

"What's cool about distributed SQL is that you get all the scale of NoSQL, but you get it with all the benefits of relational," he said. "So, you have strong consistency, you have full SQL vocabulary, but at a scale that is ready for the internet for internet-scale."

Dubbed Xpand, the DBaaS engine is designed to tolerate infrastructure failures and maintain availability by storing multiple copies of data on different database nodes. MariaDB is adding zone awareness to ensure that redundant data is kept in all the right places and survives if a zone goes down entirely.

The MariaDB database is available under GPL terms. It was sharded out of MySQL when MySQL co-founder Michael Widenius forked the code to the new open-source database after MySQL had been gobbled by Oracle.

But MariaDB, the company, builds proprietary features and services on top of the open-source database, which includes MaxScale, an advanced database proxy which hides the database layer from the application and developer, and co-ordinate automatic failover, transaction replay, load balancing and read/write splitting, the vendor said.

MaxScale is time-delayed open source, in that it will become open source when new updates arrive.

Matt Yonkovit, head of open source at database consultancy Percona, said there were open-source alternatives to the new technologies from MariaDB. For example, Yugabyte offers an open-source distributed SQL database, while ProxySQL is an open-source database proxy.

The problem with using proprietary add-ons with open-source databases is it can cancel the benefits of going open source in the first place, Yonkovit said.

"It's about how much control can you keep as you start to implement these features. 'As-a-service' is slowly – or maybe rapidly – evolving into 'lock-in-as-a service'. It's OK if you understand that, but I think a lot of users I talked to think, 'oh well I'm using MySQL' and they just assume portability between systems," he explained.

"MariaDB has now diverged significantly enough from MySQL where it's not really compatible in the same way. So, that kind of comfort goes if a company goes under, or they get bought and change the focus, I can then just switch over to another provider: I see that eroding, more and more."

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