MySQL 5.0 Stars at Users Conference

Reporter's Notebook: Co-founders David Axmark and Michael Widenius reflect on the open-source database's speed and reliability, and discuss the new features in MySQL 5.0.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Oh, if only the whole despicable idea of software patents would crumble as quickly as the fudge cake that MySQL users scarfed down at the third users conference (and 10-year birthday bash) for the database here on Tuesday.

Grumbling about how patents stifle innovation and throwing cheerful jibes at how Oracle databases slow down a laptop with all those barely necessary performance-hogging things they call features, out onto center stage surged the open-source database gurus who officially started the phenomenon back in 1995: MySQL co-founders David Axmark and Michael "Monty" Widenius.

In honor of the anniversary, the pair were clad in Hawaiian shirts, sporting red and blue dolphins, the database companys mascot. The theme from "Hawaii Five-O" played, if this reporter has her cultural compass aligned correctly. The keynote itself was delivered with Swedish/Finnish accents.

"Hawaii Five-O," Sweden, Finland, Hawaiian shirts: Its a cultural mishmash that reflects the exponential, global growth of the open-source community that contributes to the databases development—a community which has grown to a practically unknowable size, although at the 10-year mark, downloads number over 6 million.

MySQLs looking to boost that number further, announcing a new, GUI-based database migration tool called MySQL Migration Suite. Its freely available from the companys site under the GPL (General Public License) open-source license, and supports Oracle and Microsoft Corp. Access, with SQL Server, Sybase, DB2 and Informix databases to be supported in the future.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here for a slideshow of the MySQL Users Conference.

MySQL has plenty of competitors in terms of performance, but none can boast its broad implementation. This popularity can be attributed to a host of factors—most notable of which may well be that MySQL is free.

Beyond its price, a major appeal of MySQL today is a truth thats been with the database for all its 10 years: Speed is valued more than features. "Monty and I lost sleep if MySQL crashed," Axmark said during the keynote, tracing the history of the databases development. "We had a 15-minute rule: The goal was and is to make it possible to install and try MySQL in 15 minutes."

As such, MySQL has long been billed as a commodity database: not something that will ever displace your Oracle Corp. workhorse, but something that costs a lot less money and is a hell of a lot easier to maintain than Oracle—it can be plugged in as an engine behind a Web site, for instance.

Is the time coming when MySQL will grow less humble and give proprietary databases a run for their money? At the very least, the time is coming, with the upcoming release of 5.0, when enterprise-class features will enable the database to run even better with databases such as Oracle.

Next Page: Who is implementing MySQL 5.0?