Open-Source Databases Hike Enterprise Appeal

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-08-19 Print this article Print

Developers improve support for transactions, recovery, replication.

The creators of the open-source databases MySQL and PostgreSQL are trying to push them further into the enterprise with new features aimed at better support for transactions, database recovery and replication.

MySQL ABs MySQL 4.0, expected to be released as a stable version by years end, provides the InnoDB transaction storage engine that includes row-level locking.

Coming in Version 4.1 early next year will be the ability to handle stored procedures and triggers. MySQL 5.0, due late next year, will add more advanced management tools and replication as well as speed improvements, said Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, in Uppsala, Sweden.

"We became famous as a Web content database, and now we are adding new features to make us more applicable for enterprise use," said Mickos.

Separately, developers of PostgreSQL, which has transactional capabilities, are working to add support for distributed databases. That support as well as new replication capabilities are likely to be available in the next year or two, according to Thomas Lockhart, a member of the PostgreSQL steering committee and a director at Postgre- SQL Inc., one of many companies providing the PostgreSQL database.

A PostgreSQL feature that would enable point-in-time recovery, so that database administrators dont have to restore an entire database after a crash, should be out within six months, said Lockhart, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

PostgreSQLs next full release, Version 7.3, is likely in the next few months and should include further schema support with the SQL99 standard.

Users said additional enterprise features will help their companies expand their use of open-source databases. Yahoo Inc. uses a mix of MySQL and Oracle Corp.s namesake database for various parts of its Web portal, said Jeremy Zawodny, an engineer for the Yahoo Finance site. Zawodny said he expects stored procedures and InnoDB will be appealing to Yahoo departments that have home-grown applications and are looking for a lower-cost database.

However, Zawodny said he doesnt expect MySQL to be used any time soon for large-enterprise applications. Yahoo on its business side is solidified on Oracle, and most enterprises would want application vendors to support MySQL before considering it.

"Until you can run [SAP AG applications] on MySQL or buy apps off the shelf and plug in MySQL, then its an uphill battle," said Zawodny, in Sunnyvale, Calif. "For the other 95 percent of apps, its a pretty good fit right now."

Other users, though, have found that open-source databases arent always the best answer as a Web site grows in use and functionality. Open Source Development Network Inc. last week at LinuxWorld here announced plans to move its site off PostgreSQL and onto IBMs DB2 database by January. Open-source databases "work well, but they dont handle the scale," said Patrick McGovern, director of, in Fremont, Calif.

Commercial database makers are making their software more friendly to open source. Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., at LinuxWorld an- nounced an open-source version of the cluster file system in its Oracle9i database for Linux.

Related stories:
  • OSDN Chooses IBMs DB2
  • Oracle to Unveil Open-Source Cluster
  • Review: Server Databases Clash
  • MySQL Database to Get Revamped
    Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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