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Ant Group’s in-house DB set for global release, including Raspberry Pi edition

OceanBase 4.0 is derived from tech behind Alipay and is MySQL compatible

Ant Group, the financial services company spun out of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, has created a database it's claiming is a speedy and scalable alternative to MySQL, and will soon market it widely in China and beyond.

The database is named “OceanBase” and was developed as Ant Group’s in-house system, a more than decent pedigree as the company operates the Alipay payment service that boasts over 700 million users and conducts billions of transactions a month.

Some Chinese banks have started to use OceanBase, with Ant Group using those engagements to diversify its business. Last week the company advanced its OceanBase operations further still, announcing version 4.0 and its intention to find channel partners to sell and service the database.

OceanBase is a distributed relational database that is broadly compatible with MySQL. Ant Group asserts it is suitable for many workloads, has set transaction-processing speed records, and outperforms MySQL.

Version 4.0 improves recovery time from 30 to eight seconds, and has been tweaked so it can run on single nodes – even on a PC or Raspberry Pi.

The new version will also be offered as a free community edition, as has been the case with previous releases. Ant Group says it has shrunk the community edition so it can run on four cores and 8GB of RAM – specs that match the Raspberry Pi 4.

Ant Group also appears to have created managed services for the database, promising three tiers of support with the highest guaranteeing four nines uptime.

A channel program is also in the works, for China only at this stage, with an ambition to recruit 60 partners and disties to push the product. But the company has also said it plans to launch OceanBase globally, with the community edition hoped to generate grass roots developer enthusiasm.

Even with massive scalability MySQL compatibility, wining customers outside China will be a challenge. But China’s tech firms have a playbook for overseas success: the likes of Huawei and ZTE find their way into offshore telecoms deals as part of larger infrastructure investments led by China’s government.

Maybe OceanBase could find a similar route to market in places that China wants to do business, but database vendors don’t traditionally target. ®

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