About MySQL & MariaDB
MySQL® Server is not a product that is sold directly: it is "free" (as in freedom) under the GPL v2 license. Open Query and other companies offer auxiliary products and services, including support and training.
MySQL & Monty
Shown on the side is a picture of Monty, author of MySQL and co-founder of the original company MySQL AB (which was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008).
Monty left Sun in 2009 to start Monty Program Ab and develop the MariaDB branch of MySQL, and over time hired a significant number of experienced MySQL core developers (including most of the optimiser experts: Igor, Timour, Sergey).
The text on Monty's shirt "my free software runs your company" is indicative of the Open Source landscape in many companies, although some are not yet aware of it...
In early 2010 Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, and that means that the MySQL trademark and other intellectual property is now owned by Oracle. A quirky situation, for sure, and we at Open Query are well aware that many of our clients are apprehensive (if not downright hostile) to having any dealings with Oracle. Since MySQL is GPL licensed, its case is rather unique, the existing codebase cannot just disappear.
But while MySQL group at Oracle has put good development effort into MySQL and has indeed delivered interesting features over the last few years, we felt it unwise to rely solely on that source and other events since have validated that.
MariaDB & MariaDB Foundation
MariaDB is a branch of MySQL 5.1 and beyond, maintained by Monty Widenius, Monty Program Ab (now merged with SkySQL AB) and the community. Many of the highly experienced core developers work at Monty Program, and they have been very busy completing bugfixes and tasks that had often been lingering for years. Awesome examples of this are their fixing of the subquery performance in MariaDB 5.3, and integration of the Galera synchronous replication technology in MariaDB 5.5.
Yes it's a fork (in case you're wondering about the semantics), but it currently still feeds in changes from upstream (Oracle/Sun). With the available expertise, that feed can be cut if necessary. MariaDB focuses on getting useful features to production level, so you can actually use them: where necessary, features are (back)ported. MariaDB has all the right credentials, and has been delivering the fast bugfixing and adoption of community contributions we need.
Open Query's earlier effort for the enhanced MySQL 5.0 OurDelta packages lives on in MariaDB: Arjen and Monty have worked together to make sure the additional 5.0 features were ported to 5.1 and beyond, and Open Query has donated the OurDelta build scripts to Monty Program so that MariaDB has proper Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat and CentOS packages.
Open Query is a sponsor of the MariaDB Foundation which governs the ongoing development of the product.
From old colleagues, Monty Program and Open Query continue to be active in the community - this includes having open development and bug processes and mailing lists, assistence in IRC channels, presence at conferences and user group meetings, blog posts, and so on. It's not about "marketing leverage", its objective is not lead generation. Community is what we're part of, and thus part of who we are.
The last picture is of Monty together with Arjen, taken at OpenSQLCamp 2008 in Charlottesville, VA. Yes, they are wearing the same classic MySQL "What's Your Uptime?" t-shirt. Coincidence, really! Arjen says he was wearing his in reference to himself rather than MySQL that day, considering the long tiring journey from Brisbane to that event.