Microsoft buys an open source database startup to give it an edge against Amazon Web Services (MSFT)

Satya Nadella

Reuters/Charles Platiau

  • Microsoft announced Thursday that it has acquired Citus Data, a startup that uses PostgreSQL, a database management system that's popular with developers.
  • This move is another sign that Microsoft is investing in open source technologies, and follows its $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub last year.
  • This acquisition could also give Microsoft Azure an edge over Amazon Web Services as it would help Microsoft with running open source workloads with more power and scale.

Not too long after its $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub last year, Microsoft is adding another startup to its growing open source software empire: Citus Data.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced it has acquired Citus Data, an open source database startup.

Cirus Data was first founded in 2010, and raised a relatively meager $13.2 million in venture capital funding in that time. It was an early graduate from the Y Combinator startup incubator program, and attracted investors including SV Angel, Khosla Ventures, and Gmail creator Paul Buckheit. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

What Citus Data does is take PostgreSQL, a database management system that's popular with developers, and transform it into databases that can be dispersed over multiple computers. That gives developers the ability to bring their databases to ever-larger scales, for even the most demanding apps.

This acquisition could also give Microsoft an edge over Amazon Web Services, which is seen as the leader in the cloud wars. By investing in open source, Microsoft wants to win over developers and become known as the premiere place for even the most cutting-edge and heavy-duty applications. It can also be taken as a move against Oracle, which offers similar database technology to PostgreSQL.

"The acquisition of Citus Data builds on Azures open source commitment and enables us to provide the massive scalability and performance our customers demand as their workloads grow," Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president of Azure Data, wrote in a blog post.

For years, Microsoft was a fierce opponent to open source, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer notoriously called open source a "cancer." But since Satya Nadella took the reins as CEO, Microsoft has worked to flip this image, and now embraces open source.

Microsoft acquired GitHub last October to expand on its investment in developers . Since its acquisition, GitHub has already started making moves, like announcing it would offer free private code repositories .

Microsoft Azure has also already been investing in open source database services like MySQL, PostgreSQL and MariaDB. Last March, in fact, it launched its own database service for PostgreSQL. By acquiring Citus Data, Azure can continue scaling its database services for customers and run PostgreSQL workloads on Azure with more power and speed.

"We continue to be energized by building on our promise around Azure as the most comprehensive cloud to run open source and proprietary workloads at any scale and look forward to working with the PostgreSQL community to accelerate innovation to customers," Kumar wrote.

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