Microsoft Expands Azure PostgreSQL Moxy Through Citus Data Purchase

Microsoft's purchase of Citus Data is about more than just the software. It's also about talent.

Christine Hall

January 30, 2019

3 Min Read
Microsoft office building

Life isn't getting easier for the diehards who refuse to recognize Microsoft as an open source company and who vow to never let Microsoft code touch their metal. As Redmond continues to gobble-up open source companies, and to release it's own code under open source licenses, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid using Microsoft owned open source code -- especially for enterprise users.

Last week Microsoft added another large open source project to its portfolio with its purchase of eight-year-old startup, Citus Data, for an undisclosed amount. The company, headquartered in Turkey with a US presence in San Francisco, develops eponymous software that turns PostgreSQL into a distributed database for increased performance, scale, and flexibility.

"Because Citus is an extension to open source PostgreSQL, it gives enterprises the performance advantages of a horizontally scalable database while staying current with all the latest innovations in PostgreSQL," Rohan Kumar, a corporate VP at Azure Data, wrote in a blog announcing the sale. "Citus is available as a fully-managed database as a service, as enterprise software, and as a free open source download."

Keeping Azure on Par with AWS

For Microsoft, the purchase mostly benefits Azure, as Citus will allow it to offer an implementation of the popular PostgreSQL database that scales horizontally (meaning across servers and nodes), which is something relational databases don't do out-of-the-box.

Microsoft's cloud already offers Azure Database PostgreSQL, but it doesn't scale out, and its horizontally scalable relational database, SQL Server Big Data Clusters, necessitates a migration and brings vendor lock-in into play, which discourages use by hybrid and multi-cloud customers who want solutions they can run on any cloud.

Redmond likely sees this as crucial for Azure. Amazon Web Services already offers a scalable SQL service, called Aurora, which relies on APIs to make the service compatible with both PostgreSQL and MySQL, another popular open source database.

"Citus Data delivers unparalleled performance and scalability by intelligently distributing data and queries across multiple nodes, which makes sharding simple," Azure Data's GM, Sudhakar Sannakkayala, wrote in a blog. "Because Citus Data is packaged as an extension (not a fork) to PostgreSQL, customers can take advantage of all the innovations in community PostgreSQL with queries that are significantly faster compared to proprietary implementations of PostgreSQL."

Microsoft Gains More than Software

As much as Azure will benefit from Citus's existing technology, however, this purchase isn't primarily about gaining software that's already free for the taking, but about gaining the talent that produced the software. Citus Data's CEO and co-founder, Umur Cubukcu, made clear in a blog on the day the sale was announced that he and his team would be sticking around to work for Microsoft.

"As part of Microsoft, we will stay focused on building an amazing database on top of PostgreSQL that gives our users the game-changing scale, performance, and resilience they need," he said. "We will continue to drive innovation in this space. We remain as committed to our customers as ever, and will continue providing the strong support for the products our customers use today."

So what will Citus's developers be doing for Microsoft? Azure's Sannakkayala has already said the Citus team will have a hand in efforts to integrate their software into Azure's infrastructure, efforts that should be made easier by the fact that Citus already offers an online database-as-a-service version, which will probably eventually be offered alongside Microsoft's other SaaS-style offerings. Also, don't be surprised to find Citus being expanded to work with other popular open source relational databases such as MySQL and MariaDB.

Users of freely downloadable open source software also stand to be big winners, including those who are skeptical of all things Microsoft. Development pace will probably pick up, and Redmond will undoubtedly continue to offer Citus for download, although the license will most likely change from the current AGPL to the more permissive MIT, which is Microsoft's license of choice.

"Together, Microsoft and Citus Data will further unlock the power of data," Kumar said, "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."

About the Author(s)

Christine Hall

Freelance author

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001 she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and began covering IT full time in 2002, focusing on Linux and open source software. Since 2010 she's published and edited the website FOSS Force. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux.

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like