Archive for January, 2011

The Mysql Saga

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Mysql has been around for about 15 years and it was the db choice of the day for everyone wanting to go the linux way. After all Mysql is the M in LAMP. But this peaceful history of M has become quite turbulent over the past couple of years.

First there was the big Sun acquisition. Everything was looking fine, people got exciting about new opportunities; Sun was a major innovator in the IT world. But soon enough things didn’t look so bright when some of the Mysql developers and creators left Sun. You probably asked yourself back then where Mysql was heading. Was the world as we knew it over? Is there still life after Mysql acquisition?

That’s when I started looking for alternatives or forks for the first time and there was not much to find. On the other hand Sun was promising to keep things going the same as always and then the future looked bright once more.

It could have ended here but it hasn’t. Oracle took over Sun – and that was maybe a bigger blow than the first one. Oracle makes big bucks after all and from what? Hmmm…. it’s own very expensive DB. Maybe you should revisit the forks once more… At least some people did.

Oracle promised just as Sun had promised before to keep Mysql free and open source for the benefit of all mankind. But soon enough Oracle discontinued OpenSolaris and this pretty much made everyone not only suspicion of Oracles’ intentions but actually triggered people to move on from all Oracle open source acquisitions. That’s how projects like Illumos and LibreOffice appeared and that’s probably how Mysql forks and alternatives will begin to thrive.

In the meanwhile Oracle has recently produced a new stable branch: Mysql 5.5 which is Oracle promises to be a real revolution if you look at the marketing slides. This was the first new stable branch in years for Mysql so it should be something that people really looked forward to especially with the bunch of long standing and well known bugs in 5.1.

On the other side the two most interesting competitors for Mysql are MariaDB and Drizzle. The first is started by one of the Mysql creators which really means something and it also aims to stay binary (and otherwise) compatible with Mysql. The latter is quite the opposite: Drizzle strips down everything unneeded from Mysql and go their own way with the final goal being performance in a new world dominated by cloud computing. It remains yet to be seen if any of them succeed.

The problem for people like me who make a living in the IT world is that we don’t want any problems; especially with the DBs. And that’s probably one of the biggest problems that the Mysql alternatives have. On the other hand people from the open source world don’t like the Oracle approach so something has to be done about it. So far I haven’t found anything worth mentioning about successful production deployments of MariaDB and Drizzle. But I suspect this is about to change in the following years.

I’m going to start replacing Mysql with MariaDB on my testing machines just to see how things go. MariaDB is the obvious choice for people like me who like Mysql and open source because it keeps the open source flame alive but it should also offer painless transition and more features and all this is guaranteed by having one of the people who started Mysql itself.

On the other hand Drizzle is a very interesting proposal. I like performance because of my geeky nature. I’m attracted by performance, I’m lured by performance, I want to bathe in performance lust. Dropping the features that it drops from Mysql seems like a good idea because I wasn’t really using them anyway. On the other hand having to convert DBs is not a very tempting idea. And last but not least having a complete rewrite must come by definition with new bugs. How many and how bad remains yet to be established.

In conclusion I will give MariaDB an extensive try as soon as possible and I would then test Drizzle to see if it really delivers what it promises and what the compromise in features and stability is.