SkySQL launches MySQL support service

A handful of former MySQL employees are taking orders for their third-party support offering for the open-source database

SkySQL launched its third-party support service for the MySQL open-source database on Tuesday with a special offer: pay for a year's service up front, and get another 10 weeks free.

Oracle acquired many of the rights to the MySQL code when it bought Sun Microsystems, which had itself previously paid US$1 billion for MySQL in early 2008. Although MySQL is still available under an open-source license, many fear that Oracle will ratchet up its support fees for MySQL to reduce the pressure on its own commercial offerings.

SkySQL aims to beat Oracle's MySQL support offering on price -- but also on experience, said SkySQL CEO Ulf Sandberg, at a meeting in Paris to discuss the launch of the company's support service.

Founded by six former MySQL employees in July, SkySQL now has 20 staff, with around 100 years MySQL experience between them. "This whole gang are old MySQL hands," said Sandberg, himself previously senior vice-president of global services for MySQL.

Sandberg is aiming for break-even by the middle of next year, by which time he expects the company will have 40 to 50 staff.

At a time when Oracle is rumored to be about to drop its first two levels of support for MySQL, SkySQL will offer four. Basic covers a limited number of incidents (the others all cover unlimited incidents) and offers no emergency phone access. Silver includes hot fixes and phone access during business hours. Platinum and Unlimited both offer 24-hour support with a 30-minute response time, with Unlimited including an on-site health-check.

In Paris with Sandberg to promote the services was former MySQL vice-president of community relations Kaj Arnö, who left Oracle on Sept. 30 and almost immediately joined SkySQL as executive vice-president for products.

Twenty people is a small team to support an application the size of MySQL, but SkySQL has help, explained Arnö: third-line support wil be provided by Monty Program, a company created by MySQL founder Michael "Monty" Widenius to provide independent support for MySQL and to develop his own fork of that software, MariaDB.

The small team is not a problem, said Arnö: "MySQL customers are used to a very lean organization where there's no fluff. They get directly to an expert," he said.

Also on board is Michael Carney, who previously ran French operations for MySQL. Carney said he has convinced several customers to switch to SkySQL, including French dating site "When they came to renew their contract at the end of the summer, the price had doubled under Oracle. We were able to renew at the original price," he said.

Another recruit to SkySQL brings with him a useful asset. Matt Fredrickson once ran MySQL's U.S. sales operation from his home office in Cupertino, California, where his phone number, for years was listed as that of MySQL's North American headquarters, is now that of SkySQL's U.S. sales office.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at

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