While MySQL may not be supplanting proprietary databases in the enterprise, the people behind the open-source database see solving the scalability problems of Web application developers as their ticket towards broader enterprise adoption.
MySQL has traditionally been focused on being the top database for online applications, a focus that has not shifted with the acquisition of MySQL AB by Sun Microsystems. Looking ahead, company officials said a key focus for the product will be to help organizations scale up and out. With large-scale Web applications, the sheer number of users, data or transactions can grow rapidly, making scalability important for enterprises.
“We are working closely with Sun’s performance engineers to identify possible bottlenecks in the MySQL server as well as in specific storage engines,” said Zack Urlocker, vice president of products for Sun’s new Database Group. “We do a lot of stress testing, putting the database under extreme conditions and using technology like [Sun’s] Dtrace as well as other techniques to effectively put the performance under a microscope to figure out where the bottlenecks are and then make adjustments.”
The company is also looking to integrate the efforts Sun and MySQL AB were making separately around Memcache, a high-performance distributed caching system designed to take large loads off the database server and distribute them across low-cost servers with a global cache. The technology is used by some high-traffic sites to optimize performance.
The shift towards more Web-based architectures in the enterprise will benefit MySQL, said Matt Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group.
“In acquiring MySQL, Sun announced that it would be putting resources behind the open-source database to position it as an alternative for mission-critical, high performance applications,” he said. “The caveat is that it will support those applications as they are deployed on Web-based architectures. The relevance of MySQL will therefore grow as businesses move to service-oriented architectures for internal application deployment.”
The impact of open-source software on the database market
In a recent report entitled, “Turning the Tables?”, which focuses on the impact open-source software has had in the database market, Aslett and colleague Raven Zachary found that open-source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL were not actually supplanting proprietary offerings, despite their growing adoption. Instead, the report found enterprise adoption of open-source databases to be widespread but shallow, with them typically deployed to avoid the cost of additional licenses from proprietary vendors for new projects in specific application areas, such as in-house applications.
The report listed a number of reasons for all this, including concerns about enterprise functionality as well as service and support. However, Urlocker said the focus for MySQL is not so much to unseat its proprietary competitors when it comes to traditional enterprise database applications, but to become the key database for Web 2.0 companies.
“The growth rate and adoption of MySQL among Web 2.0, enterprise 2.0 applications has been phenomenal … older areas of the DBMS market are perhaps flat, but our area is growing rapidly,” he said. “The best practices in Web 2.0 applications will be the basis for the next 10 years of growth with what we call enterprise 2.0. So our plans are to continue to meet the needs of new application developers building applications that scale using the Web infrastructure.”
He also said areas like data warehousing are just starting to be addressed with open source and that the market will see more of that emerging in 2008 with specific storage engines built on top of MySQL.