MySQL Database to Get Revamped

Developer aims to add features, partnerships.

MySQL AB plans to make major changes to its namesake open-source database technology by years end, including support for SSL and nested queries.

The company will launch Version 4.0 this month and upgrade it to Version 4.1 in December, according to CEO Mårten Mickos.

With Oracle Corp., IBM and Microsoft Corp.—the so-called Big Three of the relational database industry—battling over features, market share and price, some users are turning to the open-source world for database technology. This is where MySQL hopes to make its mark.

"The database business is about much more than bells and whistles. Some people do that, but thats not our business," said Mickos, in Uppsala, Sweden. When scalability leader Oracle created a MySQL-to-Oracle conversion kit, "we took that as an award," he said.

MySQLs code is owned by developer David Axmark, and its roughly 3 million users follow the GPL (General Public License). The GPL allows open-source programs to be changed by users, but those changes arent official and cant be sold commercially unless theyre given back to and accepted by the owner.

New with 4.0 is support for the Unicode character set, the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol, embedded database links and multitable 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.

Users said the new features—not just the low price of $200 per server—make MySQL attractive in the enterprise.

At the U.S. Census Bureau, in Suitland, Md., an Oracle site license is available, but many projects run MySQL because of its speed and customization features via the Perl scripting language, said Rachel LaPorte Taylor, Internet technology architect for the agency. Even if the bureau needed more Oracle-like features, such as advanced transaction processing, another open-source database such as the University of California at Berkeleys PostgreSQL would be considered first, Taylor said.

At Yahoo Inc.s Yahoo Finance division, "we use it for a lot of things," said Technical Yahoo Jeremy Zawodny. For Yahoo, MySQL handles chores such as data retrieving and sorting, Zawodny said. "Theres a couple reasons we use it. One is that its lightning fast. The other is that its easy to configure. The downside is that it doesnt have all the features Oracle has, but 99 percent of people dont need them," said Zawodny, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

MySQLs plans include more partnerships with professional services companies 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.