Changes Afoot for MySQL Database
MySQL AB is planning major changes to its namesake open-source database technology by the end of the year. According to CEO Mårten Mickos, the company will launch its code in Version 4.0 this month and upgrade it to Version 4.1 in December.New with 4.0 is support for the Unicode character set, the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, embedded database links and multi-table updates.Bigger changes are planned for Version 4.1, such as nested queries and stored procedures. Later, the company may add new kinds of disk and table handlers, customized versions for enterprises, load balancing, and clustering. In an interview with eWEEK, Mickos, who is based in Uppsala, Sweden, said MySQLs future plans include more partnerships with professional services firms and distributors, and deals to sell MySQL as an embedded product. The companys current revenue comes mostly from licensing, with documentation and support also available, he said. MySQL is trying to make its mark with its open-source code in a database world dominated by the so-called Big Three of Oracle Corp., IBM and Microsoft Corp. "The database business is about much more than bells and whistles. Some people do that, but thats not our business," Mickos said. When scalability leader Oracle created a MySQL-to-Oracle conversion kit, "we took that as an award." MySQLs code is owned by developer David Axmark, and its roughly 3 million users follow the General Public License, which says that open-source programs can be changed by users, but that changes arent official and cant be sold commercially unless theyre given back to and accepted by the owner. Companywise, MySQLs plans include more partnerships with professional services firms and distributors, and deals to sell MySQL as an embedded product. The companys current revenue comes mostly from licensing, with documentation and support also available, Mickos said. "The low end of the Microsoft SQL Server market will be more threatened by this than Oracle. But its possible as they add more features to this product that itll move up the food chain a little," said Carl Olofson, an analyst with International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass. "Its tighter, relatively bug-free, so you get smaller footprint and all those sorts of things. Its sort of elegance in details." At Yahoo Inc.s Yahoo!Finance division, "we use [MySQL] for a lot of things, a lot of our back-end sort of processing," said Technical Yahoo Jeremy Zawodny. MySQL handles chores like data retrieving and sorting, from which the Web pages are produced. "Theres a couple reasons we use it. One is that its lightning fast. The other is that its easy to configure. You can literally just set it up and walk away. The downside is that it doesnt have all the features Oracle has, but 99 percent of people dont need them." Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., uses Oracle elsewhere in the organization. "We had groups internally who said, We have an Oracle site license, why are you wasting your time with [MySQL]? and I say, Because I dont want to continue wasting my time for years," Zawodny said. "The support you get is generally far better than a company like Oracle. At one point we sent a bug in and had it fixed less than 24 hours later. Thats something you just dont get with the larger companies."