Avoiding Database Vendor Lock-In for MySQL or MariaDB

Bart Oles


Vendor lock-in is defined as “Proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, which makes a customer dependent on a vendor for their products and services; unable to use another vendor without substantial cost” (wikipedia). Undeniably for many software companies that would be the desired business model. But is it good for their customers?

Proprietary databases have great support for migrations from other popular database software solutions. However, that would just cause another vendor lock-in. Is it then open source a solution? 

Due to limitations that open source had years back many chosen expensive database solutions. Unfortunately, for many open-source was not an option.

In fact over the years, the open-source database has earned Enterprise support and maturity to run critical and complex data transaction systems. 

With the new version database like Percona and MariaDB has added some great new features, either compatibility or enterprise necessitates like 24/7 support, security, auditing, clustering, online backup or fast restore. All that made the migration process more accessible than ever before.

Migration may be a wise move however it comes with the risk. Whether you’re planning to migrate from proprietary to open support migration manually or with the help of a commercial tool to automate the entire migration process, you need to know all the possible bottlenecks and methods involved in the process and the validation of the results.

Changing the database system is also an excellent time to consider further vendor lock-in risks. During the migration process, you may think about how to avoid to be locked with some technology.  In this article, we are going to focus on some leading aspects of vendor lock-in of MySQL and MariaDB.

Avoiding Lock-in for Database Monitoring

Users of open source databases often have to use a mixture of tools and homegrown scripts to monitor their production database environments. However, even while having its own homegrown scripts in the solution, it’s hard to maintain it and keep up with new database features. 

Hopefully, there are many interesting free monitoring tools for MySQL/MariaDB.  The most DBA recommended free tools are PMM, Zabbix, ClusterControl Community Edition, Nagios MySQL plugin. Although PMM and ClusterControl are dedicated database sollutions.

Percona Monitoring and Management (PMM) is a fully open-source solution for managing MySQL platform performance and tuning query performance. PMM is an on-premises solution that retains all of your performance and query data inside the confines of your environment. You can find the PMM demo under the below link.

PMM by Percona

Traditional server monitoring tools are not built for modern distributed database architectures. Most production databases today run in some high availability setup – from more straightforward master-slave replication to multi-master clusters fronted by redundant load balancers. Operations teams deal with dozens, often hundreds of services that make up the database environment.

Free Database Monitoring from ClusterControl

Having multiple database systems means your organization will become more agile on the development side and allows the choice to the developers, but it also imposes additional knowledge on the operations side. Extending your infrastructure from only MySQL to deploying other storage backends like MongoDB and PostgreSQL, implies you also have to monitor, manage, and scale them. As every storage backend excels at different use cases, this also means you have to reinvent the wheel for every one of them.

 Replication Setup

ClusterControl was designed to address modern, highly distributed database setups based on replication or clustering. It shows the status of the entire cluster solution however it can be greatly used for a single instance. ClusterControl will show you many advanced metrics however you can also find there build in advisors that will help you to understand them. You can find the ClusterControl demo under the below link.


Avoiding Lock-in for Database Backup Solutions

There are multiple ways to take backups, but which method fits your specific needs? How do I implement point in time recovery?

If you are migrating from Oracle or SQL Server we would like to recommend you xtrabackup tool from Percona or similar mariabackup from Mark.

Percona XtraBackup is the most popular, open-source, MySQL/MariaDB hot backup software that performs non-blocking backups for InnoDB and XtraDB databases. It falls into the physical backup category, which consists of exact copies of the MySQL data directory and files underneath it.

XtraBackup does not lock your database during the backup process. For large databases (100+ GB), it provides much better restoration time as compared to mysqldump. The restoration process involves preparing MySQL data from the backup files, before replacing or switching it with the current data directory on the target node.

Avoiding Lock-in for Database High Availability and Scalability

It is said that if you are not designing for failure, then you are heading for a crash. How do you create a database system from the ground up to withstand failure? This can be a challenge as failures happen in many different ways, sometimes in ways that would be hard to imagine. It is a consequence of the complexity of today’s database environments.

Clustering is an expensive feature of databases like Oracle and SQL Server. It requires extra licenses. 

Galera Cluster is a mainstream option for high availability MySQL and MariaDB. And though it has established itself as a credible replacement for traditional MySQL master-slave architectures, it is not a drop-in replacement.

Galera Cluster is a synchronous active-active database clustering technology for MySQL and MariaDB. Galera Cluster differs from what is known as Oracle’s MySQL Cluster – NDB. MariaDB cluster is based on the multi-master replication plugin provided by Codership.

While the Galera Cluster has some characteristics that make it unsuitable for specific use cases, most applications can still be adapted to run on it.

The benefits are clear: multi-master InnoDB setup with built-in failover and read scalability.

Avoiding Lock-in for Database Load Balancing

Proxies are building blocks of high availability setups for MySQL. They can detect failed nodes and route queries to hosts that are still available. If your master failed and you had to promote one of your slaves, proxies will detect such topology changes and route your traffic accordingly.

More advanced proxies can do much more, such as route traffic based on precise query rules, cache queries, or mirror them. They can be even used to implement different types of sharding.

The most useful ones are ProxySQL, HAproxy, MaxScale (limited free usage).

 ProxySQL Load Balancing

Avoiding Lock-in When Migrating to the Cloud

In the last ten years, many businesses have moved to cloud-based technology to avoid the budgetary limitations for data centers and agile software development. Utilizing the cloud enables your company and applications to profit from the cost-savings and versatility that originate with cloud computing.

While cloud solutions offer companies many benefits, it still introduces some risks. For example, vendor lock-in is as high in the cloud as it was in the data center.

As more companies run their workloads in the cloud, cloud database services are increasingly being used to manage data. One of the advantages of using a cloud database service instead of maintaining your database is that it reduces the management overhead. Database services from the leading cloud vendors share many similarities, but they have individual characteristics that may make them well-, or ill-suited to your workload.

 Deploy various database systems in the cloud

The Database Hosting Hybrid Model

As more enterprises are moving to the cloud, the hybrid model is actually becoming more popular. The hybrid model is seen as a safe model for many businesses. 

In fact, it’s challenging to do a heart transplant and port everything over immediately. Many companies are doing a slow migration that usually takes a year or even maybe forever until everything is migrated. The move should be made in an acceptable peace.

The hybrid model will not only allow you to build a highly available scalable system but due to its nature is a great first step to avoid lock-in. By architecture design, your systems will work in a kind of mixed mode.

An example of such architectures could be a cluster that operates in house data center and it’s copy located in the cloud. 

 Cluster to Cluster Replication


Migrating from a proprietary database to open source can come with several benefits: lower cost of ownership, access to and use of an open-source database engine, tight integration with the web. Open source has many to offer and due its nature is a great option to avoid vendor lock-in.


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