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MariaDB Looks To Boost Geospatial Data Capabilities With Acquisition

Database and database-as-a-service provider MariaDB has acquired a developer of advanced geospatial technology in a move that will make it easier for developers to incorporate geospatial data into their applications.

MariaDB’s acquisition of CubeWerx comes as the volume of geospatial data is exploding, including location-based and imagery data generated by satellites and drones, location-aware devices, sensors and IoT devices.

MariaDB will link the CubeWerx technology to its popular MariaDB database and make the capabilities available to users of MariaDB SkySQL, the company’s fully managed cloud database service.

“It‘s an absolutely, phenomenally growing market. We see [geospatial technology] to be relevant in virtually every industry. For manufacturing, aerospace, defense, modern urban planning, surveillance, insurance, and on and on,” said Jags Ramnarayan, MariaDB vice president and SkySQL general manager, in an interview with CRN.

“The need and the use cases for geospatial were always there, but the data wasn‘t,” said Glenn Stowe, one of CubeWerx’s founders and now MariaDB geospatial product manager, in the interview with CRN. “Today it’s no problem to get reams and reams of great geospatial data. Now we‘re getting buried in it. So how do we take all that data and turn it into intelligence?”

MariaDB, with dual headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., and Helsinki, Finland, develops the popular MariaDB relational database, based on the MySQL open-source database technology. In early 2020 it launched MariaDB SkySQL, a database-as-a-service offering based on its flagship software.

CubeWerx, founded in 1997 and headquartered in Gatineau, Quebec, develops advanced technology for storing, managing and integrating geospatial data through interoperable, standards-based web services.

MariaDB announced the CubeWerx acquisition today although it was actually completed earlier this month. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Stowe said all half-dozen CubeWerx employees have joined MariaDB.

Cloud-Native Approach To Geospatial Data

CubeWerx and its technology caught MariaDB’s eye because of what Ramnarayan describe as its cloud-native approach to developing geospatial technology. And he cited the fit of the CubeWerx team, expertise and culture with MariaDB.

“These are the guys who actually thought about geospatial when nobody knew what geospatial meant. We think they‘re the best experts in the field, really just a solid technical team,” he said.

While some database vendors have built geospatial capabilities directly into their database systems, MariaDB plans to take what it calls a “developer-centric” and “cloud-native” approach to integrating the CubeWerx technology with MariaDB.

The blueprint calls for developing REST APIs, based on Open Geospatial Consortium standards, that will provide application developers who use MariaDB and SkySQL with access to voluminous geospatial data that resides on low-cost cloud storage systems.

The approach is “somewhat loosely coupled, because that‘s what we feel is more appropriate for modern applications,” Ramnarayan said. “We want to be a data management service for all workloads.”

“This is just how geospatial developers use database services these days,” Stowe said. “These API‘s have become ubiquitous across the industry. They’re already supported by every desktop GIS [geographical information system] application and every web mapping framework for building web apps. We‘re going to be presenting these service endpoints to developers and they already know how to use them because of the standards that have been developed over the years.”

Ramnarayan and Stowe said MariaDB is creating a roadmap for developing the MariaDB and CubeWerx links, a process that’s expected to take several months.

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