SkySQL Ab has partnered with K.K Ashisuto, a 40 year-old company which specializes in software distribution, to offer Japanese companies an alternative service for MySQL database solutions.
SkySQL is a company which was spun off from MySQL. Now the story: Some of you folks might remember that MySQL got acquired for $1 billion by Sun Microsystems in 2008, which was then acquired for $7.4 billion by Oracle in 2010.
Interestingly, MySQL’s co-founders Michael Widenius and David Axmark actually financially backed SkySQL. The current team comprises mostly the core members of MySQL during its formative stages. Common sense would tell you that Oracle isn’t really too pleased about this.
But why the spin off? The reason is simple, as Daniel Saito, Director of Sales of SkySQL, explained to me that he and his team enjoy the startup-ish style of working. He told me over the phone about employee numbering:
At MySQL, I’m a number two-digit employee. At Sun, I’m a six-digit employee. And at Oracle, I became a barcode employee!
Saito also told me that it isn’t solely the money that they are looking at. Rather, he told me that SkySQL was formed because of passion and also because they wanted to go back to the start-up lifestyle. And besides all these, he said that it is fun to challenge a Fortune 500 company.
SkySQL vs Oracle
Saito admitted that there isn’t much difference between Oracle and SkySQL in terms MySQL enterprise product offerings — Because MySQL is governed under the GPL license and both GPL (Community) and commercial binares are all the same. However, it is evident that SkySQL’s service is more affordable than Oracle’s.
The main competitive advantage, which Saito explained to me, is in its 24/7 customer support in Japan, which will roll out by June 2012. Saito explained that in Japan, the level of quality and service is high and consumers expect the very best. Thus, he felt that offering local, 24/7 customer support in Japan would bring them one level higher than Oracle Japan.
Sure, Oracle Japan might copy this idea to get on a level with SkySQL, and Saito does expect that to happen. But he told me that even if it does, it essentially benefits the consumers in the end. “We’re raising the bar higher,” he said.
SkySQL currently has 160 customers in 21 countries and is cashflow positive. In Japan itself, there are currently 2 employees including Saito and SkySQL is planning to hire three more.
What’s cool is that all employees actually work from home which allows them time flexibility and an independent working culture. Anyway, the fight between SkySQL and Oracle is like an agile warrior fighting a titanic giant. It’s fun to watch and perhaps even more fun to battle against the giant.