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Sun Expands MySQL With Closed Source

Sun's open source database MySQL is getting an enterprise update today -- thanks to closed source.

The MySQL Enterprise Fall 2008 Release includes the new MySQL Query Analyzer tool, a proprietary source component designed to help improve database efficiency.

The Query Analyzer tool is being integrated with MySQL Enterprise Monitor to monitor database query performance, enabling administrators to view bottlenecks and optimize code. It's only being offered to MySQL's paying customers, however.

"Query Analyzer is a proprietary tool and it does have closed source components," Rob Young, senior product marketing manager at MySQL, told InternetNews.com. "It is a closed source product that we make available only to our enterprise subscribers."

Fears over MySQL making more of its code closed-source erupted earlier this year, several months after the acquisition of MySQL by Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) for $1 billion.

Though Query Analyzer is only available to paying customers, Young admitted that the tool could be something that would useful for all MySQL users.

"We really think it has global applicability across all of our user base, whether people are paying us or not," Young said. "The plan for now is to keep it commercial and proprietary, but we'd like to keep our options open. It could go out as GPL, but at this point the options are open to us."

MySQL began offering subscriptions-based support with MySQL Network in early 2005. The MySQL Enterprise subscription offering replaced the MySQL Network in 2006, with the MySQL Enterprise Monitor now a key part of that offering.

There are a number of benefits that Young claimed customers will see by using the Query Tool, which provides an aggregated view of database queries and execution times across MySQL database servers.

"Basically, we've extended the MySQL agent to have a proxy nature to it, so it will now proxy the connection between an application and the back-end server, which allows us to capture the queries as they pass through," Young explained.

The tool can show the total execution time for a query across servers as well as report on the number of rows that a query is returning. Developers then can use the results to can determine if they're pulling back too much data that their application might not be using.

"The most compelling thing is we aggregate query executions and show [database administrators] the number of times a query is executing," Young said. "You may have a query that is running really fast that may not pop up on your radar screen. But if it's running half a million times an hour across all your servers in error, that's a performance problem."

Young noted that the Query Analyzer could be a benefit to both run-time databases as well as those that are being developed, as both could be optimized with the help of the tool.

So where's MySQL 5.1?

The new Query Analyzer will also work with the upcoming MySQL 5.1 database, a release that's been anticipated for months but has yet to ship.

Sun first announced the 5.1 database back in April, at the time claiming that it would be available by June -- which didn't happen. Young commented that the plan is now for MySQL 5.1 to be released on Dec. 9.

As to why MySQL 5.1 has been delayed by months, Young noted that MySQL wanted to make certain the release was ready.

"We feel mixed emotions about announcing it previously that it was ready for GA [general availability,] but we're very confident that we'll be able to ship on Dec. 9," Young said.

As Sun tries to grow out the MySQL Enterprise user base it faces obstacles on a number of fronts, however. Sun announced 6,000 layoffs to better cope with the downturn while shoring up its business. And then, there is database giant Oracle to contend with.

Although, in some ways, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) isn't the biggest competitor to MySQL Enterprise, at least, according to Young.

"Our biggest competitor to the enterprise paying model is our own community server," Young said. "It's not crippled in any way and people can build a nice business on our free product, the community server."