MySQL Falcon an Efficiency Play

Open source database firm MySQL is building its own transactional database
engine as an option to Oracle’s InnoDB.

MySQL is
also expanding its networking offering, prepping a new release of its
namesake database and talking up a new database design tool as part of its
users’ conference which gets under way next week.

The new transactional database engine, code-named Falcon, is being
developed by Jim Starkey, whose firm Netfrastructure
was acquired by MySQL in February.

There was speculation that MySQL brought Starkey onboard to help it build a new transactional database engine to replace InnoDB, which Oracle bought last year.

Zack Urlocker, vice president of marketing at MySQL, told that Falcon is not meant as a replacement for InnoDB.

“We’ve had the pluggable storage engine architecture for awhile and it
continues to improve,” Urlocker said. “InnoDB has been our most successful
engine. We’ve renewed the agreement with Oracle and even if we hadn’t, InnoDB
is under GPL, so we’re not trying to replace something that our customers

“InnoDB is a good engine, and Oracle is a good partner of ours, but we do
recognize that there is a need for many different engines.”

As such, MySQL is opening up its pluggable database storage engine API to encourage others to develop engines. Earlier this week
SolidDB announced its engine would plug into MySQL as another possible InnoDB

With the MySQL Falcon project, the effort is focused around the idea of
scale out Web-based applications, according to Urlocker.

“What Jim has done there is take advantage of modern hardware more powerful
CPU and memory,” Urlocker said. “It’s an architecture that minimizes
database contention, minimizes locks and makes for very efficient use in
scale-out applications.”

The Falcon effort is not expected to change the default storage engine
selection in MySQL, which isn’t actually InnoDB either.

“The default storage engine has always been Myisam, and that’s not changing,”
Urlocker said. “We may look at including more engines by default.”

The power to take advantage of some of the new storage engines is a key part
of the upcoming MySQL 5.1 release, which is expected by the end of the year.

“MySQL 5.1 will be able to more easily plug and unplug engines at run time,
so it gives people more flexibility,” Urlocker said. “This whole idea of a
modular architecture is a way to increase the amount of innovation that

MySQL is also updating its MySQL Network offering, which debuted last year.

MySQL Network subscriptions
include enterprise-grade support, automatic updates(MySQL Update Advisor)
and A Technical Alert Advisor. They are now introducing a series of new
software advisors, rule-based systems for monitoring the
performance of servers that users have and then helping to provide best-practices information.

A preview of MySQL Workbench is also in the works.

Workbench is a new
database design tool for MySQL based on the open source DBDesigner. Urlocker
noted that MySQL hired the developers behind the DBDesigner project and that
they have been part of the company for a couple of years.

“One of the things Workbench brings to the table is two-way visual design of
schemas,” Urlocker explained. “One of the challenges with any visual tool is
you use it but then after a while the diagrams become obsolete because you’re
doing things directly with the database.

“With Workbench it always stays in sync so any change you make visually
ripples through to the underlying database schema and vice versa.”

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