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Distributed SQL database capabilities come to MariaDB X5

Open source database vendor updates its MariaDB platform with a new release that integrates improved Kafka support and a faster InnoDB storage engine to accelerate performance.

Database vendor MariaDB updated its flagship platform with a new release out Thursday that brings a series of enhancements, including distributed SQL capabilities.

The new MariaDB Platform X5 is the second major release from the open source database vendor in 2020, following the MariaDB X4 release on Jan. 14. Based in Redwood City, Calif., the company has also been busy in 2020 launching its SkySQL cloud database as a service on March 31 and announcing a $25 million round of funding on July 9.

Matt Aslett, research director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the vendor's move to enable distributed SQL capabilities, which enable a database to scale out, as being of interest to a portion of MariaDB's customers.

"Its [MariaDB's] combination of multi-version concurrency control and consensus to support strong consistency will certainly be of interest to customers that require support for globally distributed transactions," Aslett said.

Michael Howard, CEO of MariaDB, said certain customers will be interested in distributed SQL capabilities. MariaDB is now engaging with customers for use cases that previously would not have been easily possible, he said.

While he declined to name specific companies, Howard said that some of the new use cases include large SaaS vendors that are now able to use MariaDB, due to the distributed capabilities in the X5 update. Howard said there is interest in the technology from customers in the financial services industry as well.

This is a full distributed SQL parallel query capability to partition tables any which way up and down across clusters and have five nines and above of reliability for global and far-reaching applications.
Michael HowardCEO, MariaDB

MariaDB X5 Xpand smart engine powers distributed SQL

The vendor has branded as Xpand the technology that enables MariaDB X5's distributed SQL capabilities.

The Xpand smart engine distributes table data, as well as indexes across database instances, to enable users to do distributed queries across all data. Howard said the Xpand approach is not an application layer sharding mechanism, in which only parts of the data distributed. Rather, Xpand provides a data structure that manages the data in a more scalable approach, he noted.

"This is a full distributed SQL parallel query capability to partition tables any which way up and down across clusters and have five nines and above of reliability for global and far-reaching applications," Howard said.

Columnstore and InnoDB enhanced in MariaDB X5

MariaDB X5 also benefits from columnstore improvements that boost scalability, Howard said, adding that in X5 the ColumnStore is now faster and more coherent and integrates a full high-availability capability.

The InnoDB storage engine that is a core element of MariaDB also is being updated to accelerate database operations.

"In this version of InnoDB we really wanted to increase the throughput of high velocity write applications," Howard said.

Better Apache Kafka integration

Like other databases, MariaDB is often used alongside Apache Kafka, the open source event streaming technology.

While MariaDB has long enabled applications to bring Kafka data into the database, Howard said that with X5 the whole process has been simplified. There is no revolutionary approach to Kafka in X5, but rather a series of incremental improvements.

"So, we just improved the interface and the real-time capabilities," he said.

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