We’ve just announced a new support offering for MySQL. There’s a press release here, and product information page here. But what does this new service really mean for you, in practical terms? This is actually important — it will open up a range of new choices for you. I’ll explain two major points that matter to you.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that in some ways, what we’re offering is something we’ve always offered. That is actually why it took us a while to re-align the product a bit. We thought we were serving you fully. You told us that wasn’t really true. Thank you. We’ve listened.
1. Sensible Pricing
We’ve always offered pay-as-you-go support, and we’ve had a dedicated support staff for a while. The missing ingredient was flat-rate pricing. Big companies don’t like pay-as-you-go support for several reasons. It’s hard to budget, for one thing. Also, we blended support and consulting, so you paid our consulting rate for support, when you wanted a more focused offering at a lower price. Our new support offering is less expensive than our pay-as-you-go consulting.
We still don’t believe in traditional support pricing models, which are great for the support provider, but end up being a very expensive insurance policy for the customer. Our pricing is significantly different from the industry standards of per-server, per-CPU, or per-incident. None of these makes sense. They lead to needless arguments such as “what is a CPU?” Believe it or not, that turns out to be ambiguous; the same is true of “what is an incident?” Even “what is a server?” is a point of leverage for a salesperson (virtual machines, replication slaves?). This creates a guaranteed tension between the customer and the provider. We wanted to keep things simple and clear, and match the cost and the value as closely as possible. Our pricing is simple: it covers an unlimited number of servers and CPUs.
Finally, we want to upset the apple cart a little bit. Oracle is doing a great job improving MySQL, but our customers are telling us they still want alternatives. They are uncertain about the future. There are fears of price increases and narrowing of options. People want to know what’s going to happen and how much it’s going to cost them. We enjoy giving customers choice and freedom. Even if they don’t choose us, we think that merely offering a competitive option, especially one with pricing that isn’t dependent on the size of the deployment, makes the world a better place.
2. Focused on Support
This new service is about support for the MySQL database and the popular variants of it. Not the LAMP stack, not the variety of other software for which we have offered top-notch consulting since 2006. Just MySQL, MariaDB, Percona Server with XtraDB, and Percona XtraBackup. Focusing makes it easier for us to do a good job for you.
Why the addition of a focused service on top of our anything-you-need service? Our no-boundaries model was meant to ensure that we never ended up with a wall of “not my responsibility” between support and consulting. The result was that all issues you submitted to us went into one pool, one queue. This works great to keep everyone accountable and connected to customers, but it sometimes makes it hard to give good response time when needed. Our new system differentiates between support and consulting tickets. We have people literally at the phone and at the keyboard 24×7 triaging and handling tickets. We’ve had this in place for over a year, and it’s working great.
The quote from 37signals in our press release says it best. When 37signals called for help, about half the
company was offsite in Montreal for a meeting. Even at that hectic time, they got us on the phone right away. The call was triaged and routed to a world-famous expert in MySQL. I am proud that you can call Percona for help and get someone like that on the phone in minutes. We intend to keep this up (by the way, we’re hiring).
We think that this new offering is a significant step forward for the entire community. MySQL users need better choices. They need immediate access to deep expertise, 24×7, worldwide, with emergency support when necessary. They need smooth escalation to a consulting and development team when the issue turns out to be deeper than expected. They need a single source for services — not someone who’s reselling services from sub-contractors, not cherry-picking from multiple vendors. They need the backing of a well-established independent company with a solid reputation for expertise and customer service. And they need it at a price that makes sense. There is a vacuum in the market for MySQL support, and we want to help serve that need.