One of many things I really enjoyed working as a Sales Engineer back at MySQL Ab and Sun was that I was paid full time to encourage companies to use open source for their database layer. While Linux has already become the norm for the operating system on servers, and open source alternatives exist for app servers, it wasn't until a few years ago we really started seeing major traction of that in the database layer. And I was happy to be a small part of it!
I'm not really a salesy person. I mean I'm good at evangelizing something I believe in, addressing customer business needs and such. But you couldn't get me to lift a finger just to meet a quota, if I didn't really believe in the product. Which is what good sales guys can do. (Also known as "selling what you have in the truck".)
But thinking back at my time selling MySQL, I felt it was a great privilege to be paid a salary to travel to companies around Europe and spend a day with them explaining how and why to migrate from a proprietary database they had standardized on, to MySQL. And btw, we always met our quota too.
What made this feel even more important is that I believe this kind of method is the preferred engagement model for many companies to adopt open source. We can evangelize our family, friends, fellow students or collagues, readers of a blog and members of a user group very efficiently. But believe it or not, companies interested in a new technology prefer engaging with a pre-sales person rather than googling for information on the internet. After all, pre-sales means you get an hour or a full day with a leading expert1 who will teach you and hold your hand for for free. I understand they like it.
And that's also the reason I've been eagerly waiting to hear the news from Patrik that SkySQL is finally launching operations:
This situation lead to a development during the last six month, where gravitation simply brought equal minds together. One day we noticed we had six key individuals around the table who were strongly involved in MySQL AB, and who all felt that the glory days of the MySQL technology is still in front of us.
I think "gravitation" is an excellent word to describe it! I, among others, always criticized MySQL for lack of a true open source community. Yet, during the past 17 months a community is exactly what I've seen in action. A large group of people, often not even knowing about each other, and certainly not directed by a single leader or employer, that all shared a similar vision and wanted to take similar actions. I've seen people that work for (or own!) companies that will now become competitors to SkySQL, sharing and being supportive of the same vision. This has been really encouraging.
Some of these people have also found new employers within the existing MySQL consulting companies, or started their own, or went to places like Facebook and Rackspace. Yet, there was demand for much more than that. So for all of these friends of mine, I'm glad to see there is now one more option where they can continue full speed ahead, working for our shared vision of a MySQL community, evangelizing the leading open source database! Gravitation has finally brought all the pieces together:
On a final entertaining note, we chose on purpose to select a name which preserves part of our joint heritage. With SkySQL you are absolutely free to decide for yourself, if you pronounce it Sky - ess - que - ell, as Nordics do, or Sky - see - quell.
Hint: the correct pronunciation was always "ess-que-ell" :-)
As my final note, I want to wish my friends and former collagues, now partners, at SkySQL the best of luck and a tip: While we share a common heritage, this is not 1995 anymore. I think there is demand for a company that will be more like MySQL Ab than any of the current alternatives (which have different approaches and niches), but still, if you cannot let go of MySQL Ab and rethink, you will not succeed. The world has changed since 1995, and starting from scratch is a great opportunity for renewal for you too!
(For clarity, while still on paternity leave, I still work for Monty Program, and just like Monty I'm fondly supportive of SkySQL, just like we are supportive of all our other partners.)
- 1. well, I pretended to be one, anyway, since it looks better