An Experienced Development Team

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-11-28 Print this article Print

Is Key"> Another possible scenario is that MySQL is cooking up its own storage engine to replace InnoDB. One thing it would need to do that, however, is a good stable of developers with database skills—something Sleepycat has that MySQL does not. "Sleepycat employs a lot of database people with, like, 25 years of experience," Berkus said. "One problem MySQL has is that most database people working there are new to the database field."
Most of MySQLs development team hails from non-database-specific fields, such as PHP or Slashdot.
That has given MySQL plenty of perspective on what application developers want out of databases, and has been at the heart of the companys success in creating a database that makes Perl and PHP people happy. Think LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl. But, as Berkus pointed out, the disadvantage of that lopsided skill set is that, were MySQL to cook up its own InnoDB alternative, it would wind up rediscovering the wheel over and over. "All of the hard problems in databases have been covered numerous times," he said. "When you want to do something hard, including implementing transaction engines capable of full ACID transactions without slowing down MySQL, thats a hard thing to do and requires somebody with experience, or theyll explore dead ends for [a few years]." But wouldnt a Sleepycat deal put MySQL in the same position that it is in with InnoDB? As in, beholden to an external company, and one that could well change policies when its next renewal policy comes up? Yes, but bear in mind that InnoDB was pretty much an all-MySQL play. Sleepycat, on the other hand, between its standard, XML and Java flavors, has a robust installed base, completely independent of MySQL. "Sleepycat has full transactional system now and is a very, very reliable [system]," Stonebraker said. "It essentially has the capabilities of InnoDB or MaxDB. So its efficient, reliable and a solid engine these days. And apparently is selling very well." As it is, theres no reason for existing MySQL customers to freak out over Oracles purchase of InnoDB. The move doesnt go over well with prospective MySQL customers, however—particularly not those concerned with SAP. MySQL in 2003 took over development of SAP AGs open-source database, SAP DB, renaming it MaxDB. "The big issue with this is MySQLs partnership with SAP," Berkus said. "People running SAP, no matter what the technical advantages are, wont consider migrating to MySQL if theres even a remote threat the product [will not be continued.] Theyll stick with Oracle as long as theres a cloud." The InnoDB purchase by Oracle has also driven those who were on the fence to come down squarely in favor of adopting PostgreSQL, specifically because of the InnoDB issue, Berkus said. My guess is that MySQL is working with Sleepycat to dig itself out of the InnoDB hole. How much work would be needed to make this a viable option as a MySQL engine? Sources say when development was abandoned years back, there were a few months worth of tuning work left to be done. Id say keep your eye out for an announcement around the first quarter of the new year. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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