CEO Calls MySQL the Ferrari of Databases

MySQL is now the Ferrari of databases, which means it needs more speed and more horsepower, the company's CEO told a user conference audience.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-Open-source database maker MySQL opened its sixth user conference April 15 under a new owner, Sun Microsystems, and promptly released to general availability a near-final release candidate of Version 5.1 of its popular enterprise product.

The free enterprise database, which has been downloaded at a rate of between 60,000 and 70,000 copies per day for months, is now available under the GNU General Public License here. The final version is expected to be ready in a few weeks at the same site, Zack Urlocker, vice president of products for Sun's new Database Group, told eWEEK.

MySQL founder and CEO Marten Mickos, whose administrative title remains the same despite the new umbrella ownership of Sun, told a standing-room-only audience of about 1,200 in his opening keynote here at the Santa Clara Convention Center that the transition from a small, widely distributed company (with 400 mostly at-home employees) to the relatively regimented system of an established IT superpower in the last three months has gone "amazingly well."

"Sun basically gave a $1 billion vote for the LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl] stack," Mickos told the audience of MySQL developers, IT managers and others, referring to the $1.4 billion sum Sun paid in cash for Sweden-based MySQL. "Who would have thought five, six or seven years ago that this would happen?"

Mickos said the two companies have two key things in common that helped drive the merger: culture and vision.

Click here to read about MySQL's focus on scalability for Web 2.0.

"We are similar cultures in that we debate among ourselves a lot, we allow our people to work from home if they want to, work on their own time, and are decentralized," Mickos said. "The vision, too, is very similar: Where Sun says, 'The network is the computer,' we've always said we've wanted to be the best database in that network. Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon stage, but I love it."

MySQL is up to 12 million installed users and now has 166 million host names, Mickos said. "The exponential growth continues," he said.

Mickos also said MySQL 5.1 has upgraded its reliability and ease of use over 2005's v5.0.

"Now we can admit it, but this version is much improved over 5.0, which we weren't totally happy with," Mickos confided.

He reported that more than 1,300 bugs (997 in 2007, 386 so far in 2008) have been fixed in v5.1, and that, according to standard DBT2 benchmarks, the performance of v5.1 is 10 to 15 percent better than the previous version.

"This version now has zero bugs," Urlocker told eWEEK.

The Ferrari of databases

Mickos said innovation will move even faster now that about 100 experienced database engineers from Sun will be working on MySQL development.

"I really have little control over really what gets innovated," Mickos said. "We always need more scale. We are now the fastest DB in the world. But like being the producer of Ferrari, no matter what product you have, your customers will always want more horsepower."

Neither Mickos or Urlocker would say much about the upcoming SAAS (software as a service) version of MySQL, which is now under intense development, Sun sources told eWEEK a few days ago.

"It's a database," Mickos told eWEEK in a separate interview. "It's a big project. I can't put any timetable on it. All I can say is that the industry is moving to a SAAS-type delivery structure, and MySQL will be right there along with it."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...