Microsoft's Latest Acquisition Signals Database Focus


Microsoft bulked up its database chops Thursday by snagging Citus, a startup that extends open source PostgreSQL into a distributed database that scales to the needs of large enterprises.

The acquisition of the San Francisco-based company founded in 2010 reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to open source, and enabling production deployments of PostgreSQL on Azure, said Rohan Kumar, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Azure Data, on the company's blog.

"Citus is an innovative open source extension to PostgreSQL that transforms PostgreSQL into a distributed database, dramatically increasing performance and scale for application developers," Kumar said.

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The startup's technology "gives enterprises the performance advantages of a horizontally scalable database while staying current with all the latest innovations in PostgreSQL," he said, noting that Citus can be provisioned as a fully-managed service, enterprise software, or as open source.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

One potential complication, however, is made clear on the Citus website: "Citus Cloud is hosted on AWS and is available in most AWS regions."

Microsoft hasn't said anything about whether the relationship with its largest cloud rival will be maintained once it incorporates the startup's technology into Azure.

Microsoft has been pushing to enhance PostgreSQL delivery, and launched a managed service for that database technology in March.

"Together, Microsoft and Citus Data will further unlock the power of data, enabling customers to scale complex multi-tenant SaaS applications and accelerate the time to insight with real-time analytics over billions of rows, all with the familiar PostgreSQL tools developers know and love," Kumar said.

Microsoft has also been working to ingratiate itself to communities of open source developers in recent years—most-notably with its $7.5 deal for GitHub, the leading open source code repository.

Partners see Microsoft clearly signaling its database leanings.

John Shulz, principal consultant at Pythian, a partner of Microsoft and other cloud providers that specializes in data management technologies, said the deal is reminiscent of another big move in the database arena: Oracle's purchase of InnoDB, a MySQL storage engine, followed a few years later by taking hold of MySQL through Sun Microsystems.

"It likely means Microsoft is serious about PostgreSQL," Shulz told CRN, since "Citus is one of the largest contributors to the PostgreSQL community."

The only way the Redmond, Wash.-based cloud giant could have made that point clearer would have been by purchasing EnterpriseDB, another PostreSQL leader, he said.

Gerry Leavy, who manages Ottawa-headquartered Pythian's Microsoft alliance, added the Citus deal should be viewed as still another example of Microsoft's commitment to open source development.

"Over the last few years, Microsoft has stated they support the open source community, and bit-by-bit they've been validating this with features and functionality added to Azure and through acquisitions," Leavy said.