July 31, 2014

Percona’s Commitments to MySQL Users

You probably saw the Twitter storm over Oracle’s pricing changes and InnoDB in the last few days. The fear about Oracle removing InnoDB from the free version of MySQL was baseless — it was just a misunderstanding. Still, in the years since MySQL has been acquired by Sun, and then by Oracle, many MySQL users have been uncertain about the future. We think it’s important for us to make our own position and plans clear and public, so that there is no fear or doubt about what Percona will do.

We want to begin by saying “thank you” to those who built and maintained MySQL over the years. Many of us at Percona came from the original MySQL team. We know that it took a decade-long group effort from Monty, David, Marten and many others to develop it into the world’s leading open-source database. Much of their work is never publicly recognized, but it is the foundation of our own work, and we’re indebted to it. MySQL development suffered some detours and slowdowns over the last few years. This era is over. MySQL has never progressed so rapidly towards better features, better performance, and better quality. We applaud the great work coming from Oracle.

Always business-focused

We know that statements such as these can be filled with corporate double-speak. Let there be no doubt: Percona is in business to make money, not to make flowers grow taller and the sun shine brighter. Likewise, our customers are in business to make money. We write software that contributes to our business goals, and to our customers’ goals. And we think the best way to do that is by adhering to open-source principles.

Always improving

Our flagship database server Percona Server with XtraDB powers critical portions of the U.S. economy, applications you rely on every day, utility services, and governments. Thousands of people use it. We take that very seriously.

Our roadmap is to continue what we are doing: diagnose and solve the root problems our customers experience, and build new features to overcome limitations in the server. We have a dedicated team of engineers making sustained and rapid progress on improving it. We plan to continue releasing new versions frequently.

Always free

Our software is 100% free. We are a pure-play open-source company. We do not practice dual-licensing. We hold nothing back. Our strategy is to be a services company, pure and simple. The value we provide to customers is our depth of knowledge about how to solve their problems. The software we produce is evidence of our abilities.

Always independent and objective

Percona Server with XtraDB is an enhanced drop-in replacement for MySQL, for those whose needs are not met by the official MySQL server from Oracle. It offers more performance, more features, and more diagnostic capabilities. If it meets your needs, we’re happy, but we make our money from services, not software. Our job is to tell our customers what we think is best for them. That’s partly why we are a pure-play open-source company. If we earned money directly from our software, that would compromise our core principle of objectivity, because we’d have a financial incentive to push customers towards our software instead of helping them make the right decisions for themselves.

Always open-source

We will always work to create and improve open-source software. When there’s a need, we respond to closed-source software by providing open-source alternatives. An example of this is Percona XtraBackup. We have also worked to create open-source tools for monitoring, query analysis, replication management, and other capabilities.

If you’re worried about Oracle making MySQL closed-source, stop worrying. It can’t be done. Oracle cannot take back what is already in the community’s hands; at worst, they can only stop updating it with new versions. And we can and will continue to provide an open-source database server that delivers improved performance and functionality to our customers.

Always fairly priced

Percona is the oldest independent support provider for MySQL. We opened in mid-2006. Since then we’ve grown to over 40 full-time staff and over 900 customers. We think this success is partially because we’re fair to our customers. Our pricing model has always been to match value for the customer with Percona’s costs as closely as possible. This is why our consulting is billed by the hour in a pay-as-you-go model: you pay only for what you use. Our support and maintenance offering covers unlimited servers and CPUs, because the cost of providing support is not related to how many servers you’re running. Per-unit pricing would also compromise our objectivity — we’d have an incentive to increase your server count, instead of helping you make your systems more efficient.

Conclusion

We’re dedicated to advancing the state of the art in MySQL performance and functionality, because our customers pay us to do it. You can count on us continuing to provide an outstanding open-source database server and other software tools, with accompanying world-class services and support. We salute everyone who’s helping advance MySQL and open-source software, including Oracle, and look forward to a bright and prosperous future for our businesses.

Sincerely,
The Percona Executive Management Team:

Peter Zaitsev, Chief Executive Officer
Vadim Tkachenko, Chief Technology Officer
Baron Schwartz, Chief Performance Architect
Tom Basil, Chief Operating Officer
Bill Schuler, Vice President of Sales
Espen Braekken, Vice President of Consulting and Support

About Baron Schwartz

Baron is the lead author of High Performance MySQL.
He is a former Percona employee.

Comments

  1. Julien says:

    This is good to know :)

  2. Marten [ED: this is not Marten Mickos] says:

    As MySQL is GPL, there seems to be mo option than to keep derived work for free. So what can be said about the open-source strategy for companies that don’t own the rights to selling software (redhat is a fine example)?

  3. Vadim says:

    Marten,

    It is common misunderstanding that GPL == free.
    GPL license does not prohibit to sell software. And in this case source code may be distributed only to paying customers, not for everyone.

  4. Baron,

    Good writeup (overall) and (marketingwise) appropriate timing!

    Percona’s consistent commitment to open source has been a welcome breath of fresh air in the MySQL community. What’s more, I think in the past 18 months I think your existence and (at least to some extent even leadership, as you say you are the senior independent support provider among many others) has given a lot of confidence to MySQL users to continue using the database despite the turmoil surrounding the ownership of MySQL itself. I believe this role of Percona has been a great contribution to open source in general, and even more to all of us who now continue to work in the same community.

  5. ..and on a more philosophical note: Even if I don’t doubt your commitment to always serve your customers with the best objective advice possible, it’s not completely true that constraining yourself to per-hour consulting fee makes you free from any compromising incentives. With your model, you have an incentive to sell more consulting hours! So you could say that Percona is biased to proposing “build your own” solutions instead of off-the shelf products, even when the latter would be cheaper. (But since your customer base is often biased towards using open source solutions, it mostly cancels out this effect :-)

    For instance, it happened that a customer approached Monty Program because of a slow performing monster-view query. So he was prepared to pay us for some engineering work to make the optimizer handle his query better. But alas, upon closer investigation we realized he could solve his problem by moving to MyISAM tables and Merge instead of a View. We gave him this advice and it worked and he was very happy.

    Now, since we are an engineering company, our incentive was to sell him engineering. But tweaking the optimizer would here have been both bad advice and bad engineering! What’s worse, since we don’t have a consulting practice, I couldn’t even bill for the 30 minutes we spent on the phone, as it was pre-sales work :-(

    Just a thought for a Sunday afternoon :-)

  6. Henrik,

    Thanks for the comment. There will always be temptations to go for a short-term win. We try to prevent this by carefully assessing the cultural fit of our candidates during the recruiting and interviewing process. It’s great that your customer got the best solution to his problem!

  7. Readers might be interested in this older post, which our “related posts” feature doesn’t seem to pick up automatically:
    http://www.mysqlperformanceblog.com/2009/01/09/how-percona-develops-open-source-software/

  8. I have confirmed with the real Marten Mickos that the above comment is not from him.

  9. peter says:

    Henrik,
    I wanted of a while to write more on Bias. you’re post triggered it
    http://peterzaitsev.com/2010/11/09/4-types-of-bias-and-dealing-with-them/

  10. It’s worth noting that we support MySQL AND MariaDB AND Percona Server — not just Percona Server. That really matters.

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