MariaDB Foundation vs. Open Database Alliance

So lots of folks are talking about the newly announced MariaDB Foundation. Some folks are confused as to what happened to the Open Database Alliance?

The MariaDB Foundation members include Monty Program, SkySQL, David Axmark, and Allan Larsson.

The Open Database Alliance members include Monty Program, FromDual, Open query, Percona and SoftMethod. [SkySQL was not founded when the ODBA was announced.]

The mission of the MariaDB Foundation…well, it’s not on the MariaDB Foundation web page yet, but the blog announcement says:

In its mission statement, the MariaDB Foundation exists to improve database technology, including standards implementation, interoperability with other databases, and building bridges to other types of database such as transactional and NoSQL. To deliver this the Foundation provides technical work in reviewing, merging, testing, and releasing the MariaDB product suite. The Foundation also provides infrastructure for the MariaDB project and the user and developer communities.

The mission of the Open Database Alliance (from http://odba.org/about/):

The Open Database Alliance (ODBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the commercial and non-commercial ecosystem around Open Source Database Technologies. Whereas proprietary software forces strong dependencies upon a single vendor, Open Source (a.k.a. Free Software, Libre Software, FOSS or FLOSS) enables an ecosystem of commercial offerings around certain technologies, e.g. GNU, Samba, Apache, the Linux Kernel.

Databases are an essential base technology for most higher applications, from desktop search over web services to the entire spectrum of enterprise IT. Enabling, growing and protecting that ecosystem for all Open Source Database Technologies are primary activities of the ODBA.

According to h-online, there are already 1 million euros pledged to the MariaDB Foundation for this.

According to the ODBA fee schedule, a Silver member pays at least US$7k (depending on how many employees the company has) and a Gold member pays at least US$35k per year.

There is nothing on what the Open Database Alliance has done, or is currently doing, or is planning to do, other than doing the work of a business analyst and getting referral fees for it. And certainly, there’s nothing concrete.

The MariaDB Foundation has nothing concrete planned, but they’re fairly new. And their mission makes it clear that their organization focuses on MariaDB, whereas the ODBA is vague, and could apply to Percona’s patched MySQL, or Oracle’s version of MySQL.

If the MariaDB Foundation succeeds in getting 501(c)3 designation, they will have to be extremely careful they do not lose it. There are huge potentials for conflicts of interest (for example, does a bounty get paid by the MariaDB Foundation or the Monty Program?), which is grounds for revoking a 501(c)3 designation. (I know, because in the past I have been the Treasurer for national and international organizations, and currently server as the Treasurer for Technocation and a local fiber guild.)

With such similar members, what is the MariaDB foundation doing that the Open Database Alliance cannot do – especially considering http://odba.org/legal/ says “MariaDB is a trademark of Monty Program Ab. The Open Database Alliance and its members has broad usage rights of this trademark”?

What happened to all that money that went into the Open Database Alliance? What is the MariaDB Foundation going to do with all the money it is gathering?

Is the Open Database Alliance even a valid organization any more? It was founded May 13, 2009 – well over 3 years ago. What happened to it?

One Response to MariaDB Foundation vs. Open Database Alliance

  1. (from Monty himself….apparently my captcha is broken, I am working on fixing that now).

    Thanks for writing a post about this topic! There seems to be some misconceptions about the ODBA and the MariaDB foundation and it’s good to get them clarified!

    Sorry for not answering this at once, I didn’t get to know about your post until today.

    First a small mistakes in your original post:
    Neither Monty Program or SkySQL are currently members of the foundation.

    Then to your questions:

    There is a big difference between the ODBA and MariaDB Foundation.

    First some background of the two efforts.

    ODBA
    —-

    ODAB was intended to be for all open source databases, helping them to better compete with closed source databases.

    The problem with the ODBA was that no one of the founding members had time to drive it. The plan was from the beginning to find a person to be the driver and fund raiser for the ODBA in order to create a better commercial ecosystem for the databases.

    The failure of the ODBA was that we tried but never manage to find funded, motivated key people for it and it has been ‘in sleeping state’ since its founding.

    Initial seed funding from the ODBA founding members was sufficient for the legals and essential administration, but not more. If not suitable driver appears, it will continue to be sleeping.

    MariaDB foundation
    ——————

    This is created to explicitly for MariaDB and to ensure that the MariaDB/MySQL ecosystem survives.

    The foundation has already in it’s current interim stage already 5 people working for it full time under the guidance of the COO, Andrew Katz, who is a well known open source lawyer. We can thus handle the technical, legal, commercial, and strategic requirements including doing core development with 2 developers. With more founders we can expand this team greatly.

    The ODBA could never not do what the MariaDB Foundation is doing because it’s definition was too broad to get cooperative sponsors. And without a full time driver it can’t get results.

    To ensure we don’t get trap into some legal problems with the 501(c)3, we have Andrew Katz working for the foundation. Andrew will ensure we don’t run into legal conflicts.

    The foundations mission statement is now online at https://mariadb.org/foundation/. This includes also information of how the foundation money will be spent.
    (In other words, do marketing for MariaDB and employ developers to
    drive the MariaDB project).

    Regards,
    Monty