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PlanetScale CEO discusses $30M funding for cloud database

The CEO and co-founder of PlanetScale, Jiten Vaidya, outlines the challenges and opportunities for his firm's open source distributed SQL cloud database.

PlanetScale on June 23 said it raised $30 million in Series B funding, bringing total funding to date for the cloud database services vendor up to $55 million.

PlanetScale, based in San Francisco, is the lead commercial sponsor behind the open source Vitess technology, which enables distributed SQL cloud deployments of the popular MySQL relational database.

Vitess got its start as a project at YouTube in 2010 to help scale out database operations. Vitess became part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in February 2018, when PlanetScale was founded.

PlanetScale provides a Vitess-based managed cloud database service that was updated with a major release in May 2021.

The updated PlanetScale cloud database service offers a consumption-based model, which includes developer-focused features such as database branching. With database branching, developers can work on different database schemas in development, which can then be merged and reconciled in production.

The new round was led by Insight Partners with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and SignalFire.

In this Q&A, Jiten Vaidya, founder and CEO of PlanetScale, discusses the growth of the vendor and where it's headed.

Why is PlanetScale now raising a Series B?

Jiten VaidyaJiten Vaidya

Jiten Vaidya: We raised $30 million based on what we thought was needed to get us to the next level.

So this money will help with go-to-market efforts with our developer-first product that we released back in in mid-May. I think that was a pretty dramatic change with respect to how we decided to bring this technology to market. I think this funding really positions us extremely well to compete against the incumbent OLTP [online transaction processing] databases in the cloud.

Vitess is a great open source technology, but it's really hard to configure and run. Our goal is to make sure that all of those concerns are completely hidden from the developers.
Jiten VaidyaCEO and co-founder, PlanetScale

Does PlanetScale need to support more open source projects than just Vitess to help enable its cloud database as a service efforts?

Vaidya: Vitess is a great open source technology, but it's really hard to configure and run. Our goal is to make sure that all of those concerns are completely hidden from the developers. We want to be your DBA [database administrator] team. We want to be your performance team and we want to do it at scale.

We do use other open source projects, such as gh-ost [an online schema migration for MySQL] and orchestrator, which are open source projects used by MySQL communities for managing various aspects of MySQL clusters.

Apart from that there are other open source databases and depending on how we prioritize, we might be might decide to support other open source data store APIs.

Will PlanetScale move beyond supporting just MySQL and also support PostgreSQL in the future?

Vaidya: We get a fair amount of queries around PostgreSQL. There is nothing in Vitess' architecture that wouldn't allow us to support PostgreSQL. But keep in mind that Vitess plus MySQL is a 10-year-old deployment pattern that is tested technology at scale at YouTube at many other places.

When and if we support PostgreSQL, there's going to be some time needed for that to have the same amount of battle-tested, real production traffic, for people to gain confidence. Fundamentally, as far as the actual features are concerned, we compete very favorably with PostgreSQL, so on the longer-term roadmap, it's not something that we are looking at.

Where is PlanetScale headed with its distributed SQL database in the cloud?

Vaidya: There are different ways that others in the space have gone about distributing data.

Vitess tries to locate your data by giving you a fair amount of control over how you shard your data. We try and make sure that the majority of database transactions are single node transactions so you don't have to pay a latency cost. What it means for us is that we need to build a really intuitive, easy-to-use interface for configuring database sharding. The challenge is to make it available to developers where it's extremely easy to use.

That's what we are going to concentrate on, which is to bring all this power to developers. The thrust with our new product that we have built is to take this complicated technology and make it extremely easy for developers to use.

We will also continue to build capabilities, so that people who want to write bigger checks for us can write bigger checks, because the platform is ready for it. So you can think of features in terms of compliance, key management, and all the features that enterprises need to be able to trust their data to a cloud-based solution.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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