Oracle Outlines Plans For MySQL Database

Oracle exec Edward Screven talked to eWEEK about the future of MySQL, InnoDB and the beta release of version 5.5 of the open source database

Question marks and uncertainty still surround the fate of MySQL after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. To this end Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven plans to answer some of those queries with a keynote at the O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, California.

In a conversation with eWEEK before the event, he opened the door to some of Oracle’s plans for the database, which he said focuses on both improving MySQL and maintaining its traditional niche.

What made MySQL successful, he explained, is that it is lightweight and easy to install and administer.

“It’s very easy for programmers to get started with, and those are very important properties that we want to maintain,” he said. “We want to use – and we need to use – MySQL to address part of the database market that we don’t currently reach with the Oracle database.”

That begins today with a beta release of MySQL 5.5, which features better metadata locking, improvements in replication and other enhancements. The Enterprise edition of the database will also feature InnoDB hot back up for no additional cost. In addition to MySQL 5.5, Oracle also announced the release today of MySQL Cluster 7.1, which introduces MySQL Cluster Manager to help users automate management of the MySQL Cluster database.

The announcements are the first public manifestations of Oracle’s roadmap for MySQL in a product sense, but they are not the only new things that will be happening. From now on, InnoDB will be the default storage engine for MySQL.

“Most customers who are running applications, especially production applications, they use InnoDB, but InnoDB was not the default storage engine.” Screven explained. “So now it’s going to be built-in as the default engine. We’re still going to support MyISam of course…but by default, they will use InnoDB.”

The Falcon storage engine is on the shelf, he said.

“I think Falcon has deprecated. Falcon was Sun’s, or actually really MySQL AB’s…response to Oracle buying InnoDB,” he explained. “They were concerned  – wrongly – that we would somehow try to hurt MySQL by doing something to InnoDB. Of course we did not do anything to InnoDB other than…make it better. So now that we’ve brought the teams together, Falcon just doesn’t have a place in the world.”

Screven said in the future Oracle will look to make it easier for people to migrate data back and forth between MySQL and Oracle databases, as well as bring Oracle features like Secure Backup, Enterprise Manager and Audit Vault to MySQL. However, users should not expect integration throughout Oracle’s entire application portfolio.

“Now our traditional kind of back office and CRM applications…they rely on a lot of very specialised Oracle database functionality, and I think it would be not possible for us to build that functionality into MySQL without fundamentally changing the nature of MySQL,” he said.

Overall, he said, it is important to Oracle that MySQL remain “ubiquitous.”

“It would be crazy for us to either starve the community edition or ignore the community, because all of those folks who are out there using MySQL for free, they’re building applications and many of those eventually turn into paying customers. So it’s important to us from a business standpoint to keep the community edition viable and keep community members excited about MySQL.