Board Meeting 1/2024 Minutes: Wed 28 Feb 2024 16:00-17:00 EET

Present board members:

  • Eric Herman, Chairman
  • Barry Abrahamson, Automattic
  • Paul O’Brien, MariaDB Corporation
  • Espen Håkonsen, Crayon Group
  • Sergei Golubchik, MariaDB Corporation
  • Sean Xiang Peng, Alibaba
  • Steve Shaw, Intel 
  • Michael Widenius, MariaDB Corporation

Absent board members:

  • Todd Boyd, IBM
  • Sirish Chandrasekaran, Amazon

Present observers:

  • Stanislav Protassov, Acronis

Absent observers:

  • Serguei Beloussov, Constructor (formerly SIT)
  • Mark Stockford, ServiceNow

1. Decision: Recording BoD meetings 

Proposal: Board meetings are to be recorded, with the exception of individual agenda items that are proposed to be excluded from the recording, by at least two present board members. Recordings are not to be published externally, but used for reference when taking minutes. Once minutes are approved and published, the recordings are to be deleted.

Reasoning: The Chairman envisions gradually making the Board meetings more open. Recording them is a step in this direction. Also, transcriptions enable more detailed note-taking (and detailed minutes have been appreciated by the community). Delegating transcriptions to web services or AI would require confidence in the reasonable handling of confidentiality issues (eg. GDPR compliance) by the service provider.

Discussion: A number of board members said Zoom has an option of subtexting the meeting as it goes on, as well as getting an AI written summary after the meeting. The Chairman said this may indeed be worthwhile going forward, but that we should first gain experience from recordings being transcripted by offline AI.

Decision: Proposal approved, with the explicit addition that making transcriptions with offline tools (eg. Whisper) is approved. 

2. CEO Update 

The CEO was requested to make a quick overview of the items up to 2.5, in order to have more time to discuss item 2.6. 

The CEO noted that the texts in the items 2.1 to 2.5 contain several valuable pointers, and proceeded to give some reading and watching recommendations, as highlighted below. 

2.1 The FOSDEM fringe event and stand in Feb

Presentations 2 Feb 2024 – consider viewing videos from the track on “open source and money” – with investors behind MariaDB PLC and others in the ecosystem, such as Ann Schlemmer, the CEO of Parcona 

2.2 Facilitating Migrations to MariaDB 

Recordings of presentations 2 Feb 2024: – all recommended, especially the exciting live MySQL 5.7 to MariaDB 10.11 migration video by Dirk Hillbrecht of Cantamen, a German website for car sharing with a billion queries a day (it had its suspensions, but everything went well):

2.3 The state of MariaDB AI initiative

Recordings of presentations 2 Feb 2024, both highly recommended to get an overview of MariaDB Vector:

2.4 Adoption progress

Strong viewing recommendation for the fresh new Peter Zaitsev take on Features unique in MariaDB.

Presentations 2 Feb 2024: 

Planned presence at CloudFest in Europa Park, Rust, 2024-03 (booth and meetings)

2.5 Openness progress

Presentations 2 Feb 2024

2.6 Update: Release Model change (after 2 years)

On 5 Feb 2024 we published a blog Adjusting the MariaDB Server release model, which was the result of long discussions mainly between Monty and Sergei. The goals were related to reducing the merge burden of having too many parallel releases, while setting clear user expectations. We announced MariaDB 11.7 as the next LTS (long-term support release), and noted we plan to make LTSes yearly; we shortened the STSes from 12 months to 3 months.

Yesterday, Tue 27 Feb 2024, there was a follow-up meeting regarding a Monty proposal on having an additional LTS based on MariaDB 11.4 or 11.5, before the announced MariaDB 11.7 LTS release. This follow-up meeting was internal to MariaDB plc, with the MariaDB Foundation CEO as an external guest. 

The CEO welcomed being invited to the MariaDB plc meeting where they formed their decision. This is a substantial improvement over the announcement of the MariaDB 10.11 LTS, where our efforts to involve MariaDB plc did not bear fruit, and even the blog entry from 5 Feb 2024, where the MariaDB plc involvement was limited. 

With MariaDB plc providing the resources required by an extra long-term support release, the CEO saw no reason for MariaDB Foundation not to endorse the release as a LTS.

Sergei Golubchik raised concerns around the implications of an extra LTS on adoption and on the quality processes, from a software engineering perspective and with regard to the timetables of key Linux distros (eg. Debian). Also, he raised concerns about how to motivate the user base to test new features, in the releases not labelled LTS. 

2.7 Future of MariaDB Knowledge Base (documentation)

The CEO flagged an urgent challenge in keeping up KB, the MariaDB Knowledge Base documentation site, throughout Q1. 

While the documentation itself is open source and can be used at will by MariaDB Foundation, the KB software was never open sourced but is copyrighted MariaDB plc.

The KB software is over ten year old, Python 2 based, may have security issues, and is now rapidly deteriorating to the point of not only productivity sinking (as pages frequently cannot be saved) but also the quality of the contents being at risk.

The KB has at least in theory so far been maintained by MariaDB plc, who have now signalled a lack of capability in doing so.

MariaDB Foundation has set up a project to identify whether we should update the current software or substitute it with something else (knowing that no solution is good; band-aiding an old piece of unstable SW is bad, finding a non-100% substitute is challenging technically and expectation wise).

Regardless of the outcome of the project, MariaDB plc cooperation is needed, as the KB is a) currently hosted on, b) software-wise copyrighted plc, and c) Google search wise currently pointing to only.

As we had no time to discuss this, the CEO noted he will approach the MariaDB plc board member Paul O’Brien offline.

2.8 Finances

Our finances are not in good shape. We have over half a million euros in outstanding sponsorship payments which are not in our account, and 400,000 € of those are unpaid from last year.

That said, for the future, there are good developments, too. One of them is new agreed sponsorships, close to 100.000 €. We have also received almost 10.000 € of small donations, 6.500 € of which at the FOSDEM event.

For the future, we are focusing on increasing the level of sponsorship from several of the existing sponsors. As for EU funding, we hope to be part of the so-called IPCEI, Important Project of Common European Interest, where the European Commission has started a 1.2 billion euro Cloud Infrastructure and Services (IPCEI-CIS) project with an additional 1.4 billion in private investment projected or hoped for, which they call Europe’s biggest open source initiative ever. See OpenNebula Systems welcomes the EU decision to approve the €1.2B IPCEI-CIS. We have worked with OpenNebula for several years.

2.9 Framework for planning 2024

Blog 23 Dec 2023 Feeling good: End-of-year recap of 2023.

Stalled: work on Governance of MariaDB Server.

Our three key projects for 2024 are MariaDB Vector, simplifying migration to MariaDB, and increasing MySQL compatibility. We also plan to improve our presence on physical events.

3. MariaDB plc Update

Background: Blog 23 Feb 2024: MariaDB plc – looking forward to business as usual 

Purpose: Understanding current MariaDB plc state and how it should influence short- to mid-term goal setting of MariaDB Foundation

Discussion: We had no time for this item.

4. Follow-up on the establishment of an EU subsidiary foundation 

Patent- and register authority of Finland has received all the documentations they indicated as missing in the first round. The initial board of Open SQL Foundation sr. Some changes were needed, as we had a different auditor and other minor details. Thanks to the initial board for quick approval and signatures. The authority does not have a final deadline for sending its approval, but we expect an answer within three weeks.

5. Board Meetings 2024

Upcoming board meetings, all on Wednesdays 16:00-17:00 EET

  • Wed 22 May 2024
  • Wed 4 Sep 2024
  • Wed 27 Nov 2024