MySQL Makes Push Into the Enterprise

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-04-11

MySQL Makes Push Into the Enterprise

MySQL AB launched its first-ever users conference with a bang when it released source code for Version 5 of its open-source database at the San Jose, Calif., event on Thursday.

The Uppsala, Sweden, company considers this major release to be its first serious push into the enterprise market, given the databases new features, which include stored procedures, triggers, core SQL-99 features, foreign keys for MyISAM with cascading Delete, cursor support, multimaster replication and online backup, full sub-queries (Match, For all/Any/Some), OLAP functions for data warehousing, and a more scalable thread/connection manager.

MySQL 4.1 was also met with enterprise user enthusiasm when the company certified the code earlier this month, thanks to enhanced transaction capabilities and features that made it easier to port from Oracle databases.

Indeed, Matt Wagner, director of software development, said that the intent behind the new features in MySQL 5—particularly stored procedures and triggers—is portability. The features make it a smooth slide from Oracle Corp. databases or Microsoft Corp. SQL Server databases onto MySQL, easing the path for companies looking to save money by turning to open source, he said.

According to Wagner, there are plenty of businesses looking to port onto the open-source database due to budget shrinkage. At the recent Linux World show, in New York in January, a majority of people who inquired into MySQL were doing so due to budget cuts, he said. "Ninety percent of the people coming up to me [when I manned the MySQL booth] were telling us how their budgets were being downsized and that theyre trying to find a way to fill their needs," said Wagner, in San Jose. "A lot were moving from Oracle onto MySQL."

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According to reports released in March by Meta Group analyst Charlie Garry, MySQLs ability to take an ever-bigger bite out of the Oracle-dominated database market is real and growing. "MySQL is the wildcard in the competitive $12 billion database market," Garry wrote in the article, titled "MySQL Open Source Essentials." "MySQL AB is attacking market leaders using a combination of open source and commercial licensing to speed the adoption of its software."

(For a look at eWEEK Labs tests that have shown MySQL performance on a par with Oracle9i, click here.)

Garry expects the open-source model to grow "exponentially" as large IT organizations become ever-more comfortable with its risks and rewards with regards to support, security and total cost of ownership. Meta expects that open-source databases will begin to gain a significant chunk of the enterprise market—between 3 and 5 percent—by 2006, as use of low-level software such as operating systems and Web servers pave the way for wider acceptance of higher-level components, such as databases and application servers.

MySQL estimates that 29,000 people download its database daily and that it has about 4 million active users. Only 1,200 of those users are paying customers, estimated Garry, in Stamford, Conn. Granted, thats not an impressive number, he said. But when you look at the power of a distribution model such as open source, which anybody in an enterprise can download without getting a signature from higher-ups, enterprise management would be wise to look into how theyre going to manage MySQL, because it will surely show up.

"In a few years, well start to get calls from database administrators saying, We just found out weve got all these MySQL applications that have been built. What should we be doing?" Garry said. "[Management] had better start thinking about, How do we use open source better in our environment, how do we control the influx? Its so easy to get. You dont want to get applications being built with MySQL and you dont even know about it. You have to control that usage."

MySQL 5.0 is available in pre-alpha code now and expected to arrive at alpha stage in three to five months, in the opinion of MySQLs Wagner. For future releases, the company will focus on speed, reliability, ease of use and maintaining the economical value of the database, he said—not always an easy thing to maintain when open source hits the enterprise market. "Theres always ease-of-use issues to work on as we grow in the enterprise and add more enterprise-level features that the big customers demand to support their applications," he said. "Its tough to maintain that ease of use without getting bogged down in complications. A database that supports SAP or something, thats not that easy to use. Thats going to be a balance for us to maintain."

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