Microsoft snapped up another open source startup this week — Citus Data, which specializes in big data and analytics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Citus Data was founded in 2010 by Umur Cubuku, Ozgun Erogan, and Sumedh Pathak. It is headquartered in San Francisco, with an additional office in Turkey. To date it has raised over $13 million in funding. Its most recent funding came from a $9.5 million Series A round led by Khosla Ventures.
The startup develops an extension for the open source management system PostgreSQL. The extension transforms PostgreSQL into a distributed database, which increases performance and scale for application developers. The Citus extension is available as a fully-managed database-as-a-service running on the cloud, enterprise software, or as a free open source download.
Currently, the company’s website says that the as-a-service offering is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available in most of the cloud provider’s regions. Neither Citus or Microsoft has mentioned whether Citus will continue to offer the service on AWS.
However, in a blog post announcing the acquisition, Rohan Kumar, the corporate vice president of Azure Data at Microsoft, wrote that the two companies would “accelerate the delivery of key, enterprise-ready features from Azure to PostgreSQL and enable critical PostgreSQL workloads to run on Azure with confidence.”
By transforming PostgreSQL into a distributed database it can deliver queries much fast than proprietary implementations of Postgres according to the co-founders of Citus in a blog post. The company claims to power billions of transactions every day.
Microsoft itself has an Azure-based open managed database service for PostgreSQL, which is launched in March 2018. This is hosted within Microsoft Azure Data Services, which also hosts managed open source relational database services for MySQL and MariaDB.
Kumar wrote that the purchase “builds on Azure’s open source commitment and enables us to provide the massive scalability and performance our customers demand as their workloads grow.”
Microsoft’s Commitment to Open Source
Microsoft has been making bold moves to support open source technologies, and its purchase of Citus this week is just another example. In the highly competitive cloud provider market, in which Microsoft is going head-to-head against Google Cloud and AWS, Microsoft is marketing its openness as a way to differentiate from its competition and appeal to developers.
Mike Leone, a senior analyst of data platforms and analytics at Enterprise Strategy Group, noted that the purchase of Citus gives Microsoft quite the boost. “This acquisition will enable Microsoft to be better positioned to contribute to the PostgreSQL open source project and therefore impact the future direction of it. Microsoft instantly gains PostgreSQL knowledge and talent in one fell swoop,” said Leone. “While Microsoft, Amazon, and Google all have their own purely open-source PostgreSQL services, this acquisition enables Microsoft to have an answer to AWS Aurora, which is PostgreSQL-compatible. Citus gives Microsoft a scale-out architecture in PostgreSQL that can be more directly associated with NoSQL databases.”
Last year, Microsoft significantly bolstered this open source stance with its $7.5 billion purchase of development platform GitHub. At the time, Jack Gold, president and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, told SDxCentral that “This could help them greatly take market share against other providers (AWS, Google) in the battle to increase Azure’s market presence in commercial apps where Azure isn’t as strong as it is in the enterprise.”
However, some analysts and industry members were weary of the impact the deal could have on the open nature of GitHub. Many of these concerns were rooted in Microsoft’s treatment and poor integration of past acquisitions, including Skype and Xamarian.
Microsoft, both at the time of the GitHub acquisition and now with its purchase of Citus, holds that it is committed to maintaining open standards. In this week’s post about Citus, Kumar wrote that “Microsoft is committed to building an open platform that is flexible and provides customers with technology choice to suit their unique needs,” and even boasted GitHub as an example writing that “With our acquisition of GitHub, we continue to expand on our commitment to empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle.”
Leone held that purchasing Citus was a “good move for Microsoft.” He added that while “the GitHub acquisition showed Microsoft wants to be on the open source radar, by acquiring Citus Data too, that commitment to open source is expanding.”