Feeling good: End-of-year recap of 2023

Sea Lion Looking Back at Q4-2023

Our Sea Lion celebrates the end of a successful year, with a touch of Christmas spirit. We asked our AI Santa to create artwork that “evokes a sense of gratitude, optimism, and the magic of the holidays beneath the waves” – let me accompany the outcome with some reflections on the successful ending of the year.

Homework:  What makes you feel good?

The trigger for the reflections was the last team Zoom meeting of the year, on Tuesday. I had asked everyone to prepare by doing a personal recap of what has happened the last three months (basically since our Staff meeting, (Un)conference, and MariaDB Server Fest early October). The prompt – this time for our staff, not for AI – was the following:

What are you proud of, what makes you feel good, what do you think we have achieved? What are good things to build upon for 2024? 

From an internal MariaDB Foundation email by CEO to the employees

The discussion at the meeting was lively. Some had prepared in writing, some went spontaneously oral. Everyone had their say, and a couple of items stood out.

First sentiment: It could have been a lot worse!

The initial statement was a humble reflection about the importance of the Continuity aspect of MariaDB Foundation’s mission. Bad news on MariaDB plc was published in the press all over the year, but MariaDB Server prevailed – and this is to no small degree due to the safety net of MariaDB Foundation. We hear this from the ecosystem, we hear this from several of our sponsors. 

MariaDB plc is back, it’s listening, it’s cooperating

One item nearly everyone mentioned, from their own perspective, is the relief in having a proper relationship with “the Corporation”, which is how we still sometimes refer to MariaDB plc. They changed their management early in the Summer, but they were busy surviving, cutting costs, and organising financing until the last few months of the year. 

As I noted when interviewed by The Register, I feel that sanity has returned to MariaDB plc. Being the CEO, I got exposure to their new leadership quite early; during the last few weeks of the year, there has been enough evidence and interactions between our staff and theirs to give me the sense that this feeling has permeated all of MariaDB Foundation. A positive new chapter has started!

Amazon are contributing, they’re sponsoring, they’re on the Board

Fresh winds were blowing, with Amazon joining MariaDB Foundation as our first Diamond sponsor, at 500.000 € a year. This gives us financial strength and courage, as well as visibility. I sense the fact that everyone highlighted Amazon joining makes it a perfect combo with MariaDB plc being back.

Through its many code contributions, Amazon shows the direction when it comes to our goal to make MariaDB Server a true multi-vendor product, already bearing fruit in the form of the first significant feature contribution from Alibaba

Through Amazon joining, we also clarified our policy of Board membership, which the board has now explicitly decided can be either individual or organisational. The two first organisational members were elected in the same board meeting, unsurprisingly being the aforementioned MariaDB plc and Amazon AWS.

cPanel decided to make MariaDB Server default …

During the last three months of the year, we made good technical progress, preparing for things that will happen next year. First, cPanel (“The web hosting industry’s most reliable management solution since 1997”) announced that they are going to make MariaDB Server the default database when installing new cPanel instances, effective in version 122 of cPanel & WHM, coming in Q3 of 2024.. 

… the catalogs feature came closer to being released …

Speaking of web hosting, the lion’s share is now done of all work on the multi tenancy feature called “catalogs”. This feature is thus getting closer to production release, and has seen quite a bit of interest from the hosters.

… and we launched a Generative AI initiative.

“Generative AI is a can of worms that has to be opened”. That was the laconic comment from a senior industry influencer, when I shared MariaDB Foundation’s plans for successively making MariaDB Server a platform for AI solutions. The statement combines the opportunity with the inevitability, the complexity with the need for stepwise refinement.

The AI initiative brings together many, if not most of our sponsors and some current non-sponsors. The logic is simple: Generative AI needs a database. MariaDB Server is an open platform with an open development model, and has an architecture compatible with that of MySQL Server. The world has lots of data in RDBMSes, and AI needs vector storage. 

Looking at an exciting 2024

With so much going on during the last quarter of 2023, and the dark clouds of earlier quarters of 2023 having turned to good weather, MariaDB Foundation has so much more confidence in the future than we’ve had for the past few years. Looking forward to an exciting 2024!