Future proof MySQL services for hundreds of servers
1&1: One of Germany’s largest MySQL providers
One of Germany’s largest MySQL users, 1&1 Internet AG celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. 1&1 provides various online applications to private individuals, businesses and professionals. All products are hosted in private, high-performance data centers.
1&1 has an enormous legacy - about 700 MySQL installations with a total size of approximately 3 terabytes. This includes not only Release 5.5 but also older product versions such as 5.0 and 5.1 still used by the internal IT service department. Raymond Siebert, Senior Database Administrator takes care of these databases with a team of five, with the additional safeguard of expert support from SkySQL.
Challenge: Business uncertainty in pricing and open source promise
In Germany, 1&1 is well known as an enthusiastic, long-term and extensive open source user. Its popularity is due both to the lower TCO as well as the widespread knowledge of open source technologies which makes it easier to find suitable IT staff.
The hundreds of open source MySQL databases caused no problems, until Oracle bought Sun and – as the owner of MySQL – started increasing prices. Suddenly, the support by Oracle would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. What aggravated the situation was that the database giant linked the support license costs to the number of processors.
Oracle caused a year later more uncertainty with its new MySQL version 5.6. It was no longer completely open source, but required costly licenses for some new features. This caused doubts at 1&1 about the open source future of MySQL in general, and the question of changing database provider was raised. For Siebert, the situation is anything but pleasant: "We must prepare for all possible contingencies."
Solution: Reliable open source and support from MariaDB and SkySQL
Raised pricing and the uncertainty of MySQL’s future raised concerns. "Both of these factors taken together caused us to decide against Oracle," Siebert remembers. "We are a rapidly growing company and cannot allow the unpredictable decisions of other corporations to hinder our further development."
In 2011, Siebert signed unlimited support agreement with SkySQL. There were no concerns about the performance of SkySQL, as many of its staff were known from MySQL times. "So far, SkySQL has treated us right in every support case," compliments Siebert: "They always achieved a result that helped us."
However, the concerns raised about MySQL’s future means the the 1&1 database team are continuing to look for an alternative database with minimal migration costs for themselves and their customers. The focus is now on testing MariaDB - a drop-in alternative to MySQL that has now surpassed its parent software in certain areas.
"The open source aspect is just as important to us as price and features," Siebert says. Therefore he was pleased that SkySQL, together with the developers of MariaDB launched the MariaDB Foundation late last year. The Foundation will greatly improve the cooperation around MariaDB which in turn would lead to a quicker technical development of MariaDB. Siebert says: "What was at least as important is that the open source character of the database is ensured through the Foundation."