SkySQL raises $20M in Intel-led round to push MariaDB deeper into the enterprise

The reformation of the ex-MySQL gang back in April was manna from heaven for open source geeks – take that, Oracle(s orcl)! – but that’s a limited community and SkySQL, the company that’s now steering the MySQL fork MariaDB, wants to sell more widely.

Luckily for Helsinki-based SkySQL, a big pot of money just appeared to aid that quest, in the form of a $20 million Series B round led by Intel(s intc) Capital and also featuring California Technology Ventures, Finnish Industry Investment, Open Ocean Capital and Spintop Private Partners.

Speaking to me on Tuesday, CEO Patrik Sallner pointed out that big Linux distributions such as OpenSUSE, Red Hat(s rht) and Fedora have enthusiastically embraced MariaDB, and of course adoption by big names such as Google(s goog) and Wikipedia doesn’t hurt either, but SkySQL really wants to break the database into the enterprise too.

“We need to drive much increased penetration and adoption of MariaDB across different environments,” Sallner said. “General awareness of MariaDB is quite low. Word has spread in the open source community, but we believe there’s a big opportunity with enterprises.”

That ambition was already clear back in July, when MariaDB introduced support for Fusion-io’s “atomic writes” feature, but Sallner said more features are on the way to back this up. The MariaDB 10.0 release, which is due later this year, will for example bring in global geographical information system (GIS) support, as well as improved master-slave replication.

On top of those enhancements, which Sallner said will “distinguish technically what we have in MariaDB versus MySQL,” SkySQL will also use its cash injection to make MariaDB easier to use.

“A lot of adoption has been on the community side, but traditional enterprises need much better tooling, graphical user interfaces and management consoles,” he said. “We are investing now to build products and services for traditional enterprises [that may have] more generic IT system administrators running databases.”

Interestingly, Sallner also identified the growing open data movement as an opportunity for MariaDB, largely because of its compatibility with myriad storage engines.