Rackspace hires to align with MySQL offshoot

A number of people who worked on the Drizzle project have gone to the cloud infrastructure vendor

A number of former Sun Microsystems employees who worked on Drizzle, an offshoot of the MySQL open-source database, have ended up at cloud infrastructure provider Rackspace, where they will continue their efforts, developer Jay Pipes wrote in a blog post Monday.

Pipes left a post as community relations manager for MySQL in October 2008 to begin working on Drizzle. He had become frustrated by "the slow pace of change in the MySQL engineering department and its resistance to transparency."

Drizzle was of interest to Pipes "because it was not concerned with backwards compatibility with MySQL, it wasn't concerned with having a roadmap that was dependent on the whims of a few big customers, and it was very much interested in challenging the assumptions built into a 20-year-old code base," he wrote.

Shortly after Oracle closed its acquisition of Sun earlier this year, Pipes learned he and others would be out of a job.

"I don't know whether [Oracle CEO Larry Ellison] understands that cloud computing and infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and database-as-a-service will eventually put his beloved Oracle cash cow in its place or not," he wrote. "But what I do know is that Rackspace is betting that providing these services is what the future of technology will be about."

Oracle has no public plans for a competing public cloud service along the lines of Rackspace and Amazon Web Services. Instead, it is expected to focus on selling tools and services for building private clouds.

Meanwhile, Rackspace considers Drizzle to be "a database that will provide them an infrastructure piece that will be modular and scalable enough to meet the needs of their very diverse cloud customers," Pipes said.

MySQL itself has issues that can't be fixed "with simple hacks and workarounds," he added. In addition, Rackspace is using the Cassandra storage framework , and sees promise in integrating it with Drizzle, he said.

Rackspace didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

The company likely "has two motives -- both internal and customer use of the software," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research, via e-mail. "I would guess that they've cost-justified this based on internal use alone, with the other being more of a 'call option' on a possible future business opportunity."

"I think the first task at Drizzle is to reinvent whichever pieces of MySQL are needed for the big-Web-site use case and aren't fully baked in Drizzle yet," Monash added. "Longer term, I think the issue is not just integrating Drizzle and Cassandra, but integrating them both in a consistent replication structure with all of RAM, solid-state memory, and disk."

In a recent blog post, Drizzle project leader Brian Aker said the next release, code-named Cherry, will be completed before the O'Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo, which runs April 12-15.

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