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MySQL Enterprise in Fall Push

One of the primary ways that open source vendors make money is the subscription model where users pay an annual fee for services and support.

MySQL today has updated that model with its latest version of MySQL Enterprise, its commercial subscription service. MySQL is also expanding its solution set with a number of new, still-under development initiatives, including a proxy server and its Falcon transaction engine.

MySQL Enterprise, which earned its name last fall after originally launching as MySQL Network in 2005, includes a Replication advisor that, according to MySQL executive vice president Zack Urlocker, includes automatic replication detection and grouping, as well as real-time monitoring.

It will automatically determine the master/slave relationships that make up the replication topology, and the rules will warn you of any latency issues with slaves; for example, it will notify you if a system is falling behind.

It also includes a new set of Performance advisor rules for monitoring table-level locking and making recommendations to improve performance.

MySQL Enterprise Server Software and enterprise-class production support are also included in the latest version. There is also a MySQL Enterprise Monitor, launched last year, that provides an automated system for making sure MySQL servers are running optimally.

Though MySQL has been in the market with a subscription service for several years, today's offering is much improved over the former ones. And while the MySQL Enterprise subscription is focused on the stable enterprise versions of MySQL, developers are hard at work on the next versions of the open source databases.

"There are always multiple MySQL releases available, so you can choose whether you want to use the latest stable production release, or if you want to be trying out new features in an alpha or experimental stage as part of longer-term planning," Urlocker told InternetNews.com.

Those new releases include MySQL 5.1, which will be a "Release Candidate" within the next month. "We've been running MySQL 5.1 in production at MySQL for more than six months, and it is rock solid," Urlocker said. "This is the most tested version of MySQL that we've ever had."

MySQL 5.1 adds several new capabilities, Urlocker said, including row-based replication, which gives a lot of new flexibility; partitioning for dealing with very large data sets; events for scheduling tasks to be run within the database; and disk-based cluster storage.

There have also been some improvements in performance due to enhancements made in the optimizer and parser.

MySQL is working on version 6.0, which is currently in alpha, with the final not expected until mid-year 2008. The key feature of MySQL 6.0 is the Falcon storage engine currently under development.

MySQL began working on Falcon in April 2006 soon after rival Oracle purchased InnoDB, its main storage engine.

"Building a new storage engine, especially when you are trying out new concepts, can take a while," Urlocker said. "Falcon has quite a lot of innovative new ideas that will make it very well suited to Web-based applications running on newer modern systems with multiple cores and large amounts of memory."

Though MySQL is putting its own development effort behind Falcon, it isn't going to stop supporting other storage engines.

"Our view is that there is no one single storage engine that will be perfect for everything; that's why we have multiple storage engine architectures," Urlocker explained. "You can use MyISAM when you need the fastest read-intensive performance. InnoDB is a great transactional engine. Falcon is optimized for Web-based applications with modern multi-core hardware, and it will use as much memory as you give it.

"And we're also seeing new third-party storage engines like Nitro, InfoBright, PBXT and Solid. Each one is suited for different types of applications."

MySQL is also trying its hand at making its database faster by proxy. Urlocker described the under-development MySQL Proxy as a new middleware technology that acts as a bridge between MySQL client applications and the MySQL server.

"You can do lots of interesting things with MySQL Proxy, like analyzing and rewriting queries, or redirecting queries to different servers," Urlocker said. "We're getting a ton of input from the open source community in this area, so we're quite excited by the possibilities around MySQL Proxy."