Andreessen pours $22M into PlanetScale’s database-as-a-service

PlanetScale’s founders invented the technology called Vitess that scaled YouTube. Now they’re selling it to any enterprise that wants their data both secure and consistently accessible. And thanks to its ability to re-shard databases while they’re operating, it can solve businesses’ troubles with GDPR, which demands they store some data in the same locality as the user to whom it belongs.

The potential to be a computing backbone that both competes with and complements Amazon’s AWS has now attracted a mammoth $22 million Series A for PlanetScale. Led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by the firm’s Cultural Leadership Fund, head of the US Digital Service Matt Cutts, plus existing investor SignalFire, the round is a tall step up from the startup’s $3 million seed it raised a year ago. Andreessen general partner Peter Levine will join the PlanetScale board, bringing his enterprise launch expertise.

PlanetScale co-founders (from left): Jitendra Vaidya and Sugu Sougoumarane

“What we’re discovering is that people we thought were at one point competitors, like AWS and hosted relational databases — we’re discovering they may be our partners instead since we’re seeing a reasonable demand for our services in front of AWS’ hosted databases,” says CEO Jitendra Vaidya. “We are growing quite well.” Competing database startups were raising big rounds, so PlanetScale connected with Andreessen in search of more firepower.

A predecessor to Kubernetes, Vitess is a horizontal scaling sharding middleware built for MySQL. It lets businesses segment their database to boost memory efficiency without sacrificing reliable access speeds. PlanetScale sells Vitess in four ways: hosting on its database-as-a-service, licensing of the tech that can be run on-premises for clients or through another cloud provider, professional training for using Vitess and on-demand support for users of the open-source version of Vitess. PlanetScale now has 18 customers paying for licenses and services, and plans to release its own multi-cloud hosting to a general audience soon.

With data becoming so valuable and security concerns rising, many companies want cross-data center durability so one failure doesn’t break their app or delete information. But often the trade-off is unevenness in how long data takes to access. “If you take 100 queries, 99 might return results in 10 milliseconds, but one will take 10 seconds. That unpredictability is not something that apps can live with,” Vaidya tells me. PlanetScale’s Vitess gives enterprises the protection of redundancy but consistent speeds. It also allows businesses to continually update their replication logs so they’re only seconds behind what’s in production rather than doing periodic exports that can make it tough to track transactions and other data in real-time.

Now equipped with a ton of cash for a 20-person team, PlanetScale plans to double its staff by adding more sales, marketing and support. “We don’t have any concerns about the engineering side of things, but we need to figure out a go-to-market strategy for enterprises,” Vaidya explains. “As we’re both technical co-founders, about half of our funding is going towards hiring those functions [outside of engineering], and making that part of our organization work well and get results.”

But while a $22 million round from Andreessen Horowitz would be exciting for almost any startup, the funding for PlanetScale could assist the whole startup ecosystem. GDPR was designed to reign in tech giants. In reality, it applied compliance costs to all companies — yet the rich giants have more money to pay for those efforts. For a smaller startup, figuring out how to obey GDPR’s data localization mandate could be a huge engineering detour they can hardly afford. PlanetScale offers them not only databases but compliance-as-a-service too. It shards their data to where it has to be, and the startup can focus on their actual product.


This Week in Data with Colin Charles 48: Coinbase Powered by MongoDB and Prometheus Graduates in the CNCF

Colin Charles

Colin CharlesJoin Percona Chief Evangelist Colin Charles as he covers happenings, gives pointers and provides musings on the open source database community.

The call for submitting a talk to Percona Live Europe 2018 is closing today, and while there may be a short extension, have you already got your talk submitted? I suggest doing so ASAP!

I’m sure many of you have heard of cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, and so on. But how many of you realiize that Coinbase, an application that handles cryptocurrency trades, matching book orders, and more, is powered by MongoDB? With the hype and growth in interest in late 2017, Coinbase has had to scale. They gave an excellent talk at MongoDB World, titled MongoDB & Crypto Mania (the video is worth a watch), and they’ve also written a blog post, How we’re scaling our platform for spikes in customer demand. They even went driver hacking (the Ruby driver for MongoDB)!

It is great to see there be a weekly review of happenings in the Vitess world.

PingCap and TiDB have been to many Percona Live events to present, and recently hired Morgan Tocker. Morgan has migrated his blog from MySQL to TiDB. Read more about his experience in, This blog, now Powered by WordPress + TiDB. Reminds me of the early days of Galera Cluster and showing how Drupal could be powered by it!


Link List

  • Sys Schema MySQL 5.7+ – blogger from Wipro, focusing on an introduction to the sys schema on MySQL (note: still not available in the MariaDB Server fork).
  • Prometheus Graduates in the CNCF, so is considered a mature project. Criteria for graduation is such that “projects must demonstrate thriving adoption, a documented, structured governance process, and a strong commitment to community sustainability and inclusivity.” Percona benefits from Prometheus in Percona Monitoring & Management (PMM), so we should celebrate this milestone!
  • Replicating from MySQL 8.0 to MySQL 5.7
  • A while ago in this column, we linked to Shlomi Noach’s excellent post on MySQL High Availability at GitHub. We were also introduced to GitHub Load Balancer (GLB), which they ran on top of HAProxy. However back then, GLB wasn’t open; now you can get GLB Director: GLB: GitHub’s open source load balancer. The project describes GLB Director as: “… a Layer 4 load balancer which scales a single IP address across a large number of physical machines while attempting to minimise connection disruption during any change in servers. GLB Director does not replace services like haproxy and nginx, but rather is a layer in front of these services (or any TCP service) that allows them to scale across multiple physical machines without requiring each machine to have unique IP addresses.”
  • F1 Query: Declarative Querying at Scale – a well-written paper.

Upcoming Appearances


I look forward to feedback/tips via e-mail at or on Twitter @bytebot.


The post This Week in Data with Colin Charles 48: Coinbase Powered by MongoDB and Prometheus Graduates in the CNCF appeared first on Percona Database Performance Blog.


Percona Live Europe featured talk with Anthony Yeh — Launching Vitess: How to run YouTube’s MySQL sharding engine

Percona Live Europe featured talk

Percona Live Europe featured talkWelcome to another Percona Live Europe featured talk with Percona Live Europe 2016: Amsterdam speakers! In this series of blogs, we’ll highlight some of the speakers that will be at this year’s conference. We’ll also discuss the technologies and outlooks of the speakers themselves. Make sure to read to the end to get a special Percona Live Europe registration bonus!

In this Percona Live Europe featured talk, we’ll meet Anthony Yeh, Software Engineer, Google. His talk will be on Launching Vitess: How to run YouTube’s MySQL sharding engine. Vitess is YouTube’s solution for scaling MySQL horizontally through sharding, built as a general-purpose, open-source project. Now that Vitess 2.0 has reached general availability, they’re moving beyond “getting started” guides and working with users to develop and document best practices for launching Vitess in their own production environments.

I had a chance to speak with Anthony and learn a bit more about Vitess:

Percona: Give me a brief history of yourself: how you got into database development, where you work, what you love about it.

Anthony: Before joining YouTube as a software engineer, I worked on photonic integrated circuits as a graduate student researcher at U.C. Berkeley. So I guess you could say I took a rather circuitous path to the database field. My co-presenter Dan and I have that in common. If you see him at the conference, I recommend asking him about his story.

I don’t actually think of myself as being in database development though; that’s probably more Sugu‘s area. I treat Vitess as just another distributed system, and my job is to make it more automated, more reliable, and easier to administer. My favorite part of this job is when open-source contributors send us new features and plug-ins, and all I have to do is review them. Keep those pull requests coming!

Percona: Your talk is going to be on “Launching Vitess: How to run YouTube’s MySQL sharding engine.” How has Vitess moved from a YouTube fix to a viable enterprise data solution?

Anthony: I joined Vitess a little over two years ago, right when they decided to expand the team’s focus to include external usability as a key goal. The idea was to transform Vitess from a piece of YouTube infrastructure that happens to be open-source, into an open-source solution that YouTube happens to use.

At first, the biggest challenge was getting people to tell us what they needed to make Vitess work well in their environments. Attending Percona Live is a great way to keep a pulse on how the industry uses MySQL, and talk with exactly the people who can give us that feedback. Progress really picked up early this year when companies like Flipkart and Pixel Federation started not only trying out Vitess on their systems, but contributing back features, plug-ins, and connectors.

My half of the talk will summarize all the things we’ve learned from these early adopters about migrating to Vitess and running it in various environments. We also convinced one of our Site Reliability Engineers to give the second half of the talk, to share firsthand what it’s like to run Vitess in production.

Percona: What new features and fixes can people look forward to in the latest release?

Anthony: The biggest new feature in Vitess 2.0 is something that was codenamed “V3” (sorry about the naming confusion). In a nutshell, this completes the transition of all sharding logic from the app into Vitess: at first you had to give us a shard name, then you just had to tell us the sharding key value. Now you just send a regular query and we do the rest.

To make this possible, Vitess has to parse and analyze the query, for which it then builds a distributed execution plan. For queries served by a single shard, the plan collapses to a simple routing decision without extra processing. But for things like cross-shard joins, Vitess will generate new queries and combine results from multiple shards for you, in much the same way your app would otherwise do it.

Percona: Why is sharding beneficial to databases? Are there pros and cons to sharding?

Anthony: The main pro for sharding is horizontal scalability, the holy grail of distributed databases. It offers the promise of a magical knob that you simply turn up when you need more capacity. The biggest cons have usually been that it’s a lot of work to make your app handle sharding, and it multiplies the operational overhead as you add more and more database servers.

The goal of Vitess is to create a generalized solution to these problems, so we can all stop building one-off sharding layers within our apps, and replace a sea of management scripts with a holistic, self-healing distributed database.

Percona: Vitess is billed as being for web applications based in cloud and dedicated hardware infrastructures. Was it designed specifically for one or the other, and does it work better for certain environments?

Anthony: Vitess started out on dedicated YouTube hardware and later moved into Borg, which is Google’s internal precursor to Kubernetes. So we know from experience that it works in both types of environments. But like any distributed system, there are lots of benefits to running Vitess under some kind of cluster orchestration system. We provide sample configs to get you started on Kubernetes, but we would love to also have examples for other orchestration platforms like Mesos, Swarm, or Nomad, and we’d welcome contributions in this area.

Percona: What are you most looking forward to at Percona Live Data Performance Conference 2016?

Anthony: I hope to meet people who have ideas about how to make Vitess better, and I look forward to learning more about how others are solving similar problems.

You can read more about Anthony and Vitess on the Vitess blog.

Want to find out more about Anthony, Vitess, YouTube and and sharding? Register for Percona Live Europe 2016, and come see his talk Launching Vitess: How to run YouTube’s MySQL sharding engine.

Use the code FeaturedTalk and receive €25 off the current registration price!

Percona Live Europe 2016: Amsterdam is the premier event for the diverse and active open source database community. The conferences have a technical focus with an emphasis on the core topics of MySQL, MongoDB, and other open source databases. Percona live tackles subjects such as analytics, architecture and design, security, operations, scalability and performance. It also provides in-depth discussions for your high-availability, IoT, cloud, big data and other changing business needs. This conference is an opportunity to network with peers and technology professionals by bringing together accomplished DBA’s, system architects and developers from around the world to share their knowledge and experience. All of these people help you learn how to tackle your open source database challenges in a whole new way.

This conference has something for everyone!

Percona Live Europe 2016: Amsterdam is October 3-5 at the Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre.

Amsterdam eWeek

Percona Live Europe 2016 is part of Amsterdam eWeek. Amsterdam eWeek provides a platform for national and international companies that focus on online marketing, media and technology and for business managers and entrepreneurs who use them, whether it comes to retail, healthcare, finance, game industry or media. Check it out!


Percona Live featured talk with Sugu Sougoumarane – Vitess: The Complete Story

Percona Live featured talk with Sugu Sougoumarane

Percona Live featured talk with Sugu SougoumaraneWelcome to the next installment of our talks with Percona Live Data Performance Conference 2016 speakers! In this series of blogs, we’ll highlight some of the speakers that will be at this year’s conference, as well as discuss the technologies and outlooks of the speakers themselves. Make sure to read to the end to get a special Percona Live registration bonus!

In this installment, our Percona Live featured talk with Sugu Sougoumarane, Infrastructure & Storage Engineer at YouTube is about Vitess: The Complete Story. I had a chance to speak with Sugu and learn a bit more about YouTube and Vitess:

Percona: Give me a brief history of yourself: how you got into database development, where you work, what you love about it.

Sugu: My involvement with databases goes back to Informix in the 90s. This was during the 4GL and client-server days. I was part of the development team for a product called NewEra.

I later joined PayPal, where we used Oracle and eventually scaled it to the biggest machine money could buy. I have to say that I’m still a fan of the mighty hash join. During my time there, I wrote the system that balanced the books, which helped me gain some unique perspectives on consistency. Word on the street is that the tool is still in use.

These experiences at PayPal influenced the founders of YouTube to try a different approach: scaling with commodity hardware. When I joined YouTube, the only MySQL database we had was just beginning to run out of steam, and we boldly executed the first resharding in our lives. It took an entire night of master downtime, but we survived. These experiences eventually led to the birth of Vitess.

Percona: Your talk is going to be on “Vitess: The Complete Story.” How has Vitess moved from a YouTube fix to a viable enterprise data solution?

Sugu: This was around 2010. YouTube was growing, not only organically, but also internally. There were more engineers writing code that could potentially impair the database, and our tolerance for downtime was also decreasing. It was obvious that this combination was not sustainable. My colleague (Mike Solomon) and I agreed that we had to come up with something that would leap ahead of the curve instead of just fighting fires. When we finally built the initial feature list, it was obvious that we were addressing problems that are common to all growing organizations.

This led us to make the decision to develop this project as open source, which had a serendipitous payback: every feature that YouTube needed had to be implemented in a generic fashion. App-specific shortcuts were generally not allowed. We still develop every feature in open source first, which we would then import to make it work for YouTube.

Aside from our architectural and design philosophy, our collaboration with Kubernetes over the last two years means anyone can now run Vitess the way YouTube does: in a dynamically-scaled container cluster. We’ve had engineers dedicated to deployment and manageability on a public cloud, making the platform ready for general consumption.

Percona: Why move to a cloud-based storage solution anyway? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Sugu: In general, a big advantage of cloud solutions is easy horizontal scalability – tuning capacity by simply dumping more commodity servers in the mix. For storage engines, the problem is that application complexity and operational overhead tend to scale up along with the number of database instances. A cloud-native storage solution like Vitess hides the complexity of horizontal scalability from both app developers and database operators. Thousands of servers can look like one to both dev and ops. With Kubernetes, Vitess even becomes agnostic to the underlying choice of cloud platform, providing cloud flexibility with no vendor lock-in.

Percona: What are the roadblocks cloud data becoming the default? What are the issues about cloud data storage that keep you up at night?

Sugu: Cloud technologies are beginning to coalesce around ideas like immutable infrastructure and ephemeral, dynamically-scheduled workloads. Instead of changing a server, you dynamically request a new one, and the old one disappears. These ideas work great for stateless app servers but represent unique challenges for storage engines. It turns out that many of these challenges are ones we faced at YouTube as we moved Vitess from private data centers into Google’s global container cluster. So we know cloud-native data storage works at scale, but now we have to prove that it works just as well on public cloud.

Percona: What are you most looking forward to at Percona Live Data Performance Conference 2016?

Sugu: I feel like I still don’t know MySQL well enough. I’m hoping to learn more about its internals and new features. I’m also looking forward to learning more about today’s data challenges that companies are facing, and hear about the creative ways people are solving them.

Want to find out more about Sugu Sougoumarane, Vitess, and YouTube? Subscribe to the Vitess blog site, and check out the Vitess main page.

To hear Sugu’s talk on Vitess: The Complete Story, register for Percona Live Data Performance Conference 2016. Use the code “FeaturedTalk” and receive $100 off the current registration price!

The Percona Live Data Performance Conference is the premier open source event for the data performance ecosystem. It is the place to be for the open source community as well as businesses that thrive in the MySQL, NoSQL, cloud, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) marketplaces. Attendees include DBAs, sysadmins, developers, architects, CTOs, CEOs, and vendors from around the world.

The Percona Live Data Performance Conference will be April 18-21 at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara & The Santa Clara Convention Center.


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