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MySQL Eyes Enterprise with 5.0 Alpha

MySQL AB took the wraps off the latest version of its database server Monday, a product that now offers enterprise-grade capabilities such as stored procedures to the open-source software.

Stored procedures are Structured Query Language (SQL) statements that are compiled in the database so that they can be accessed across multiple applications.

Such features, which cater to complex enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications from vendors like Siebel or PeopleSoft, will effectively enable MySQL to compete with Microsoft's SQL Server, IBM's DB2 and Oracle's Database products.

MySQL CEO Marten Mickos said stored procedures allow administrators to move some of the application logic over to the database server. The database can run the procedure on its own, reducing network traffic in enterprise environments where speed and efficiency are paramount.

"There is no need to go to the client all of the time," Mickos told internetnews.com. "You can split the application logic on two locations. There are some instances where you might need that and some where you don't but we're offering users that choice."

MySQL has a penchant for making sure its database server versions are "battle tested," or floating in testing phases for months before production-ready releases are rolled out to ensure a quality and reliability level Mickos equates to that of a car.

To wit, MySQL 5.0, which also includes improved portability and migration, is in the initial development, or "alpha" phase, which means developers may still add features to the current code. Subsequent beta and production-ready gamma tests precede the final production release.

Mickos said one of the key goals of MySQL development is making sure new features don't comprise database speed or performance because one of the things both opens-source users and business users like about the software is that it "so simple and so fast."

MySQL, the most popular open-source database with more than 4 million active installations, both complements and competes on some levels with Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle, but it is often used in small businesses or departments of large enterprises where modest application data storage and retrieval are required.

One of the reasons why many industry analysts find the Sweden-based MySQL AB company intriguing is its dual licensing business model. This makes MySQL software available free under the GPL license, while users may pay for it under a commercial license, which includes services.

Such flexibility is a breath of fresh air in the software world, which is often segregated into two camps: open-source or proprietary. Those camps are typified by the open Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

A recent survey completed by Evans Data found that found that MySQL is gaining traction. Microsoft SQL Server and Access usage has grown by six percent while MySQL usage has grown more than 30 percent in the last year, according to the market researcher.

Another recent study conducted by software inspection concern Reasoning found that MySQL code quality was six times better than that of comparable proprietary code.

MySQL 5.0 alpha can be downloaded at the MySQL Web site.