Board Meeting 2/2024 Minutes: Wed 22 May 2024 16:00-17:00 EET

Present board members:

  • Eric Herman, Chairman
  • Todd Boyd, IBM
  • Paul O’Brien, MariaDB plc
  • Sirish Chandrasekaran, Amazon
  • Espen Håkonsen, Crayon Group
  • Sergei Golubchik, MariaDB Corporation
  • Steve Shaw, Intel 

Absent board members:

  • Barry Abrahamson, Automattic
  • Sean Xiang Peng, Alibaba
  • Michael Widenius, MariaDB Corporation

Present observers:

  • Stanislav Protassov, Acronis
  • Peng Khim, DBS Bank

Absent observers:

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

1. CEO Update 

1.1 The state of Finances

The CEO gave an overview of the state of finances, with a summary of being “challenging with an upside”.

There are still unpaid invoices from 2023, in addition to delayed payments for 2024. This has led to a situation where personnel have not been paid salaries. Luckily, this is limited to the CEO and the Chief of Staff.

Also challenging is that even the money that we do have has been held up by added bureaucracy of the “Know Your Customer” type. We have payments going all across the globe, and payments can take ages to reach South Africa, Bosnia, or Australia. And in the process, KYC hold-ups have caused even intra-EU payments to be stalled.

Thirdly, in the case of new sponsorships and renewals, we need to balance our openness with tact and diplomacy. Thus, I will mention individual sponsors and their payment status only with the Operating Committee.

The CEO believes there are good reasons to believe we will have several Diamond sponsors of 500.000 € each for 2024. 

On top, we have what we think of as solid 2024 payments for 340.000 €, out of which 66.000 € already paid. Further, we have renewals for another 275.000 € in line, as well as leads for new sponsors for 300.000 €, and Government type contracts for another 300.000 €. A startup would call those amounts “upside”.

The CEO expects more certainty at the September board meeting.

We closed a new sponsor, as announced in SkySQL is our new Silver sponsor! (2024-05-20)

1.2 Openness / Contributions

New preview release MariaDB 11.5.0 preview release available announced (2024-03-27)

New maintenance releases MariaDB 11.2.4, 11.1.5, 11.0.6, 10.11.8, 10.6.18, 10.5.25, 10.4.34 now available announced (2024-05-16)

Contributions Q1/2024 MariaDB Contribution Statistics, April 2024 (2024-04-16) Six contributors from Amazon, ten commits.

Three contributors from Codership Galera, 19 commit.

One contributor each in Alibaba and IBM, with two and one commit.

Ten independent contributors, including the University of Sydney and OpenBSD, 26 commits.

Vibrancy of ecosystem Towards a healthy ecosystem (2024-05-14). We’re talking about the somewhat different expectations between code contributors and experienced reviewers. We at Foundation are happy to use pull requests on Github and eat our own dog food, because we want contributors, and we want to make it meaningful as well as easy to contribute to MariaDB Server. 

At the same time, we have considerable understanding for some conservatism on the side of the reviewers. 

MariaDB Server is not your run-of-the-mill Open Source project but a core part of the infrastructure of the Internet and the entire IT world.  This means that our cost for accepting bad code is significantly higher than for a less fundamental project. We have to choose appropriate role models. 

That said, we are figuring out new processes, such as being able to have an intermediate level of reviewers, and to ensure that code attribution works properly.

The practices need to be good for the elders as well as for the new contributors.

We have an ask here. We would like code contributions from every sponsor and board member. It is a purpose unto itself, living by our principles.

1.3 Adoption progress

End outcome of BoD 1/2024 discussion item 2.6 Update: Release Model change (after 2 years) MariaDB Server 11.4 will be LTS (2024-04-02)

Work on MySQL/MariaDB differentiation with Mark Callaghan How MariaDB and MySQL performance changed over releases (2024-04-17). The short story is that there has been considerable regression in MySQL, but not in MariaDB.

1.4 Facilitating Migrations to MariaDB 

A team under the leadership of MariaDB Foundation Chief Contribution Officer won the “Future Of The Web” Award at Hackathon, with a project titled “Integrating MariaDB Catalogs with PHP Platforms“ MariaDB Wins at the CloudFest Hackathon (2024-03-27)

1.5 The state of MariaDB AI initiative

MariaDB Vector progresses towards a first developer code release still in May MariaDB is soon a vector database, too (2024-05-10)

MariaDB Vector and MariaDB Foundation get visibility during Christoph Schell keynote at Intel Vision “Bringing AI Everywhere” in London MariaDB Vector at Intel Vision – AI Everywhere (2024-05-17)

1.6 Future of MariaDB Knowledge Base (documentation)

We were hurting at the last meeting and we are still sorting it out. We have taken the initiative to look at the code ourselves, but we are held up in bureaucracy. So the technical part is still unknown.

2. Next steps now that EU subsidiary foundation is established 

The EU based Open SQL Foundation sr is now properly established in Finland. The purpose, to be eligible for EU funding, is now achieved.

As the EU foundation is established, we are now acquiring the rights to pay salaries. The original core board, “establishing board”, needs one more level of bureaucracy to set up these rights.

The CEO asked the MariaDB Foundation Board members not yet formally on the Open SQL Foundation board to expect to be requested to provide full details (passports etc.) to be able to formally join the board, before the September Board meeting. The intent is for the board members of each legal entity to be an exact overlap.

3. MariaDB plc update

Paul O’Brien gave a summary of a PR Newswire article about a cash offer for MariaDB plc.

Paul reiterated the importance of MariaDB Foundation from MariaDB plc’s perspective.

4. Discussion of positioning (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, NoSQL)

The CEO shared the work in progress about a timely description of MariaDB in relation to other databases. 

Our overall statement is this: 

MariaDB is a generic database for any use case, particularly in large web sites that demand high availability, such as Wikipedia.

MariaDB is known for its stability, performance, and ease of use. 

When compared with other databases, this is important to point out:

1. MariaDB Server is of course a fork of MySQL, technically.

2. We are no longer a drop-in replacement of MySQL.

3. But we are a replacement of MySQL, and we are highly compatible with MySQL, even MySQL 8.0. We are striking a balance about being different but similar. 

4. Not all of our users have migrated from MySQL. Many have also come from Oracle.

5. And there are various other databases people are migrating to MariaDB from.

6. Historically, PostgreSQL was developed as a features-first database, whereas MariaDB (and its ancestor MySQL) started as a pragmatic, usability-first database (stability, performance, ease of use). Over time, the gap has narrowed, with PostgreSQL having added usability and MariaDB having added functionality.

The chairman further stressed the key advantages of MariaDB’s support of the possibility to migrate backwards (downgrade) without losing data, if something goes wrong. 

Steve Shaw pointed out that being “Open Source” must be underlined.

The CEO noted that our tagline is “The innovative Open Source database” (and agreed it was missing and should be re-featured in the overall description above).

5. Board Meetings 2024

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

  • Wed 4 Sep 2024
  • Wed 27 Nov 2024

The CEO shall separately add Peng Khim, as a new observer, to the invites of the above meetings.