On the Open Source Database market. Q&A with Peter Zaitsev

Q1. How is the current status of the Open Source Databases market?

There is a lot of innovation going on in the database market and a lot of those innovations spill to Open Source licensed software too.  We have innovation both in terms of data models and data access protocols but also internal architecture with a lot of startups in distributed database space, serverless databases, databases focused on separating storage and compute, cloud native databases and database technologies designed to natively run in Kubernetes environments. 

Where I have concern is attempt to erode Open Source in Database market in particular ranging from some companies claiming Open Source is irrelevant because there is always lock-in to attempts to redefine what Open Source means, calling Shared Source software (ie SSPL licensed) Open Source or using word play such as “Open” or “Open Source Compatible” to mislead the public. 

Q2. Are there any special trends to look after in the next months to come?

I am very much excited about the adoption of Open Source Databases on Kubernetes.  Per Data on Kubernetes (DoK) community report there is some 50% growth in adoption of Databases on Kubernetes last year alone. I think we are close to critical mass when the majority will not be thinking “Kubernetes is for Stateless applications and no-no for Databases” and will embrace running Databases on Kubernetes. With this, as well as usability improvements, advanced in simple to use GUI management applications we will see a real alternative to the DBaaS solutions that major clouds offer. 

Q3. When are Open Source Databases and Cloud an appropriate solution and when not?

There are increasingly niche use cases in which case you just must have Cloud Only or Proprietary database, in other cases it is really the choice of what you are the most comfortable with. Open Source solutions often require a little bit more upfront investment and “elbow grease” as well as lack in simplicity and usability, so Proprietary solutions may be a good choice when you do not have a lot of database expertise and you want to get results fast. If you are thinking long term and scale investing in building Open Source experience and participating in Open Source database projects to make them better for your needs is typically better investment.

Q4. What role is Kubernetes playing for Open Source Databases?

In the late 1990s when I was starting my career with Open Source databases and particularly MySQL, founders – Monty and David paid a lot of attention to simplicity and usability – you should be able to install MySQL and get going in 15 minutes or less and we achieved that. However if you look at real production database rather than development database you tend to need to coordinate software installation of multiple nodes,  manage recovery in case of failures, perform rolling upgrades, perform backups and restores – all of that is rather hard to do in Linux context, because Linux operates in the context of single server and does not help with multi server automation. 

Kubernetes on other hand is like Linux for your Data Center, allowing to take simplicity and usability to the next level – with help of Kubernetes Operators (Percona provides those for MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL) you can get production grade highly available self healing cluster in less than 15 minutes and perform key operations such as scaling cluster, backups, upgrades with one simple command, versus multiple manual steps in classical Linux installations. 

Kubernetes look and feel and concepts are quite different from Linux, mostly because distributed systems are different and I see many Linux old timers do not like it at first, but those who have learned to get it, love it!

Besides being very useful on its own, Kubernetes is a great building block – many public DBaaS solutions (ie PlannetScale) run on Kubernetes. At Percona we’re also building DBaaS Like GUI and API features into Percona Monitoring and Management, striving to provide you with DBaaS experience in Open Source package.


Peter Zaitsev is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Percona. As one of the foremost experts on Open Source strategy and database optimization, Peter leveraged both his technical vision and entrepreneurial skills to grow Percona from a two-person shop to one of the most respected open source companies in the business with staff members more than 350. Now Peter continues as a Board Member & Advisor in a range of open source startups. Peter is a co-author of High Performance MySQL: Optimization, Backups, and Replication, one of the most popular books on MySQL performance.

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