What’s Next?

Just a heads-up that today, October 12, is my last official working day at Monty Program. The change is bittersweet. Bitter because I will very much miss working with a very talented team. Sweet because I leave with a real sense of accomplishment. Monty hired me 2.5 years ago to drive awareness of MariaDB and to start building a viable community around it. I think these goals have been met to a large degree.

While I have been using vacation days recently, I did follow the announcements by Oracle regarding new closed, commercial extensions. Almost universally in these discussions MariaDB is put forth as a fully Free, drop-in replacement. The Reddit comments on Monty’s blog post about this issue are a good example. Also, Monty, Colin, and I have noticed that over the past 6 months or so the, “What is MariaDB?” conversations, especially at conference booths, had dropped precipitously. It’s exceedingly gratifying to see that MariaDB is a known solution, and that the work around it is seen as a true project, rather than a corporate product distributed freely. People know the project. A community has really started to coalesce. This being the case, the inevitable, “So … what’s next?” conversation with Monty ensued, and neither of us had an answer at our fingertips. So it’s time for me to move on and find a new challenge.

I would definitely not be leaving Monty Program unless Colin was staying. There is a lot of work in community gardening, and Colin is a rock star. The “What’s next?” conversation with Monty did not have to include stewardship of the MariaDB community. If you have questions about what’s happening in MariaDB world, Colin is the person to find henceforth.

It’s been a great time working for Monty Program, and I wish them and the MariaDB project every success. Starting up a project and a community around critical LAMP plumbing was an extremely fun ride!

MariaDB at LinuxCon North America

I’m in Vancouver this week for the Linux Foundation’s annual North American conference.

Monty Program is once again a proud sponsor of LinuxCon, and as such we’ll have a table in the Technology Showcase (the equivalent of an Expo Hall). If you use, hack on, or are otherwise interested in MariaDB and/or MySQL, stop by and say hello! Also, be sure to attend Colin’s talk Friday at 1400!

It’s hard to believe we’re celebrating 20 years of the Linux kernel this year. Rock on!

Percona Live NYC

The next Percona Live event is this week, and in this time it’s in Manhattan! I’m grateful to Percona for giving me the opportunity to speak to attendees about current happenings in the MariaDB world. If you use SQL in the tri-state area, you should definitely consider getting yourself to Percona Live this Thursday.

See you there! And yes, yes … I’ll have black vodka.

MariaDB And Trademark

I’d like to wish Henrik Ingo well now that he has publicly announced his resignation from Monty Program. Henrik, I especially wish you all the best with the new member of your family.

I know you put a lot of effort into your presentation to the Monty Program board regarding transfer of trademark ownership, and you know (and I do not mind saying externally) that I supported transfer to a non-profit designed for such purposes. Our informal, non-inclusive vote in Istanbul aside, I think the company as a whole should put a lot of thought into such matters. I would always hope the board would do the same.

And it is my understanding that this is what is happening. Not that the board made a final decision to maintain trademark ownership, but that they decided more research and discussion are needed. And despite my knee-jerk reaction to go the Debian trademark route, I came to Monty Program from Canonical. Wiser legal and business minds have decided to retain the Ubuntu trademark for Canonical. Just as Red Hat has retained the Fedora trademark. So despite my inclinations I have to ask why others have chosen differently.

Trademark has value, and not just to investors. Spoofy domains exist for a reason. And I have to admit to trusting Canonical and Red Hat to protect their marks better than, again, Debian (SPI owns but does not manage).

This leads to two questions. First, who actually manages trademark issues? If organizations own but do not manage, in practicality if Monty Program transferred ownership of the MariaDB trademark, Monty Program would still be in the position of managing it. I have doubts about community-only enforcement of trademark issues (Debian people, you there?). So either way, people have to have faith in Monty Program handling their trademark management sanely. It’s not about ownership, it’s about management. Which leads to question two.

What is sane trademark management? Trusting a company to protect a mark is useless if you don’t trust the company. How far is too far, and who do you trust? Canonical and Red Hat both have clearly stated guidelines vis-a-vis use of their respective marks. Monty Program does not. So regardless of who actually owns the MariaDB trademark, MariaDB needs a trademark policy so that those who wish to use the trademark understand how the mark is managed.

Personally I think Canonical and Red Hat enforce their trademarks sanely. There does not seem to be much objection to the Ubuntu and Fedora trademark guidelines from the community at large. If MySQL made mistakes with regard to their trademark policy and management of it, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that Monty Program will necessarily repeat those same mistakes.

Of course, everyone has a different definition of “sane.” Monty Program employees, the company board, and the community have to decide what is sane for themselves. So I find myself in agreement with the board. We probably need more time to actually draft a trademark policy, and to discuss the real benefits and possible issues of any potential transfer. I’m beginning to think “the other guy does it,” or (“didn’t do it”) isn’t enough.

Fortunately, the need for a trademark policy has been known for some time. We are looking at various other projects’ policies, and will probably borrow liberally from our Free/open source peers. It is my hope that a draft trademark policy will be made available for community comment early in 2011, after employees have a chance to help create that initial draft. Colin and I have been driving most of this, and unless I have misunderstood some of the salient points, we have been told to create a draft that assures:

1). The MariaDB (and other Monty Program managed marks) always entertain fair use gracefully.

2). The MariaDB trademark is made available to users, hackers, companies and products as long as the usage doesn’t conflict with other usage, and the trademark licensor keeps a level of quality and follows well established open source conduct.

3). The marks will always be available, via a “public promise” approach to ownership transfer (should ownership not have been transferred from Monty Program previously). Failure of the company, or failure of the company to deliver, ends exclusive mark ownership.

4). Everyone understands what “fair use,” “made available,” “beneficial ways,” and “public promise” mean above, and to where mark ownership will revert. We have yet to really define what will trigger the switch. That will be presented in draft form, also, I am sure.

MariaDB will only survive if people hack it and use it, and are able to say they hack it and use it. We want this. Our trademark policy will reflect it, and assure that Monty Program can’t run off with the mark, or let it wither and die. But training, professional certifications, hardware certifications? These require trademark management. It’s probably a primary factor in the lack of official Debian certs. And no offense meant to you Debian, trademark management isn’t something I want to do, either. Good management starts with a sane policy. And we will have a policy soon.

I don’t think MariaDB and/or Monty Program are that far off-course. And I’m too involved in making MariaDB succeed to quit now.

Rename Maria Contest Winner!

After two months of submissions, Monty Program employee review, community voting and Monty’s final decision, we are happy to announce that the Maria storage engine will henceforth be known as …


Congratulations to Chris Tooley who suggested the name. Chris said about Aria in his submission, “Maria without the ‘M’, plus aria is a pleasant musical term.” Chris is now the proud new owner of a System 76 Meerkat net-top computer. Thanks to our good friends at System76 for providing this nifty prize.

Hopefully, in time, “Aria” will also be a pleasing database engine term. And now we will not have the confusion between MariaDB and Maria.

Rename Maria Survey Complete

We have now closed the online survey for the Rename Maria contest. Thanks to everyone that participated, the voting exceeded our expectations!

We will now present the top five candidates to Monty for his final vote, and we’ll announce the winner on Monday, July 19, coinciding with the first day of OSCon.

Stay tuned to find out the new name of the Maria storage engine, and who won the Meerkat net-top!

Rename Maria Contest – Phase 3 – Take The Survey!

Just over a month ago Monty Program announced a contest to rename the Maria storage engine. We had a LOT of submissions, probably due in part to the fact the winner of the contest gets a shiny new Meerkat net-top computer from System76.

Phase 1 was getting the community to give us submissions. During Phase 2, the submissions were collected and voted upon by the Monty Program employees. This reduced the hundreds of submissions to a manageable fifteen choices. Phase 3 is now upon us, where we ask the community to go and choose their favorite ideas from the fifteen semi-finalists. The top five results will then be submitted to Monty for a final vote during the fourth and final phase.

You can click here to take survey. The survey will be closed at 23:59 UTC this coming Friday, July 9. We plan to announce the winner on the first day of O’Reilly’s OSCon event on July 19.

So, what are you waiting for? Go vote for a new name!

Community Leadership Summit 2010

The Community Leadership Summit 2010 is July 17 and 18, just before OSCon. Monty Program is proud to again sponsor this important event, and I’ll be there along with Monty and Colin Charles.

It was a great event last year, and there’s no reason to believe this year will be any different. It’s free to attend, so if you’re going to OSCon, live in PDX, or are involved with building a community you have no excuse for not being there.

Well, you’ll have to listen to Jono, so I guess there is a price to pay. But it’s nothing years of therapy and a trans-orbital lobotomy can’t fix …

I tease. I tease because I love.

Rename The Maria Engine Contest (Win Hardware!)

Since we started work on MariaDB, the drop in replacement for MySQL, there has been a LOT of confusion about MariaDB the database versus Maria the storage engine.

Thus, Monty Program is running a “Rename Maria” contest. Click that shiny, beckoning link for more information.

As an incentive to click that link, the prize is a spiffy Meerkat NetTop computer from our friends at System76!

The contest runs through May 31, so jump-start that clever brain of yours and send in your suggestions!