Infobright Announces Open-Source Data Warehouse Based on MySQL
Infobright announced last week that a version of its data warehouse product was now being released under an open-source license (the GNU General Public License, version 2). Infobright also announced that it had raised a $10 million round of venture capital funding, and that one of the investors is Sun Microsystems.
Open-source databases have become commonplace over the last decade. Both MySQL and PostgreSQL have large, active communities, as well as many companies that offer programming and support services using these programs. PostgreSQL development is coordinated by a global steering committee, some of whom are paid by their employers to work on the database software. MySQL development, by contrast, is handled by Sun Microsystems, which bought Finnish company MySQL AB earlier this year for $1 billion. Sun also continues to invest time and effort in PostgreSQL, although not on the same scale as MySQL.
Both MySQL and PostgreSQL are meant for "online transaction processing" (OLTP), a role that you might normally associate with a relational database. For example, a store might use an OLTP system to record sales. Analyzing those sales, however, would be done in a data warehouse, using specialized storage and query software. Infobright's software uses the MySQL database, but with its own back-end storage mechanism that compresses the data and makes it easier to retrieve items of interest. Infobright's data warehouse is read only, and is described on the community Wiki as being appropriate for data sets larger than 500 GB or with more than 500 million rows in a single table.
Why has Infobright decided to release their software under an open-source license? First of all, they haven't released everything that they make; the community edition is slower than the proprietary edition. So you can think of the open-source version as something of a teaser, encouraging potential customers to try before they buy. Secondly, Infobright might well expect users to buy service contracts for use with the open-source tool -- although service is not nearly as high-margin a business as selling software as a product.
Finally, market forces might have caused Infobright to rethink their strategy: In an article published in Enterprise Systems, an anonymous industry analyst says that Infobright had not originally planed to be open source, but was forced to do so by the large number of competitors. This contradicts a statement made by Infobright's CEO, Miriam Tuerk, who said that open source was always part of the company's strategy. Regardless, MySQL and Infobright have been collaborating for some, as evidenced by a strategic partnership launched nearly two years ago, and technical documentation such as this article.