Sun Microsystems Talks MySQL 5.1, Bugs and Version 6.0

Sun Microsystems officially announces the general availability of the MySQL 5.1 database, a week after controversy surfaced regarding the number of bugs still present in the database. Responding to concerns about the bugs, Sun officials defends its decision, highlights some of MySQL 5.1's features and speaks about the Falcon storage engine and backup utility coming in Version 6.0.

Sun Microsystems officially announced the general availability of MySQL 5.1 Dec. 8, more than a week after declaring the open-source database production-ready.

Controversy erupted around the decision last week after MySQL founder Monty Widenius noted a number of bugs had not been fixed and advised enterprises to take a cautious approach to deployment. In the past 10 days, however, there have been more than 250,000 downloads, meaning interest in the open-source database remains strong.

"Our decision to release 5.1 as GA [generally available] is based on its readiness for use in production systems," said Jeffrey Pugh, head of engineering for Sun's Database Group.

"A team of support, QA [quality assurance] and development engineers reviews every bug reported internally, by community users and by paying customers and then recommends priorities for bug fixes based on a combination of bug type, impact on our user base, availability of a workaround and other factors," he continued. "Although individuals may personally judge a specific bug differently, we look across the whole user base to see what has significant impact, and what are corner cases. When all serious bugs with widespread impact are fixed, we evaluate the software as ready for release."

The MySQL team, he added, leaves its bug database open to the public and publishes a list of known bugs at the time of the release.

In production for some three years, MySQL 5.1 includes a number of new features aimed at improving performance, including partitioning functionality, row-based replication and a new plug-in API. Some of the bugs criticized by Widenius were in the newer functionality, particularly the partitioning and replication technology.

With the 5.1 release now more or less in the rearview mirror, Sun can look ahead to 6.0. Currently, MySQL 6.0 is in the alpha stage of development and is scheduled to be GA in 2009. So far, much of the talk surrounding 6.0 has centered on the Falcon storage engine.

Falcon, Pugh said, offers all the traditional characteristics needed for online transaction processing (OLTP) systems, including ACID compliance, crash-recovery, multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) and user-defined tablespaces. In addition, the new MySQL backup utility will also be a boon for 6.0 users, he said.

"The new backup utility will offer non-blocking backup support for the MyISAM storage engine as well as all MVCC-based storage engines [like] Falcon, InnoDB, etc., and also provide faster backup and restore times," he said.

Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg said 6.0 has many new pieces of functionality that can help performance in mission-critical environments. Getting use in mission-critical environments is important for open-source databases, as research by the 451 Group has shown open-source databases are not often used to support such environments.

However, open-source adoption continues to be on an upswing, and Gartner predicts revenues for the market to surpass $1 billion by 2013.