Percona challenges Oracle with alternate MySQL release

Percona Server 5.6 replicates some features only found in the enterprise edition of Oracle's MySQL database

Percona continues to nip at Oracle's heels, releasing a free version of the open-source MySQL 5.6 database with advanced features similar to ones in Oracle's paid enterprise edition.

The newly released Percona Server 5.6 features scalability, availability, backup and security features similar to those found in Oracle's MySQL 5.6 Enterprise Edition, which Oracle makes available only to customers who purchase a support contract.

Percona Server 5.6, now available as a free download, also includes all the functionality of Oracle's community edition of MySQL 5.6, released in February.

Percona Server is designed to work with applications that would be too demanding for MySQL itself to support, said Peter Zaitsev, founder and CEO of Percona, a MySQL consultancy and software company.

For instance, Percona Server 5.6 is able to manage up to 1,000 concurrent threads, whereas the standard version of MySQL starts to bog down handling around 150 threads, according to Percona. Oracle has also configured MySQL to handle large numbers of active threads simultaneously, though much of the work can be found only in the company's enterprise edition of MySQL, according to Zaitsev. More open threads means the database can handle more incoming data requests at once, an important attribute for databases powering heavily used Web application servers.

Other features of the Oracle MySQL Enterprise Edition are duplicated by Percona as well.

Using the adjunct Percona XtraBackup program, also free, administrators can make full incremental backups of Percona Server data, as well as maintain hot backups. Through a plug-in, Percona Server offers similar security capabilities as Oracle's MySQL 5.6 Enterprise Security edition.

Percona Server 5.6 is based on Oracle's MySQL 5.6 Community Edition, and so it is interchangeable with Oracle's MySQL in many circumstances. Because MySQL's source code is available for others to use under a Gnu General Public License, companies other than Oracle -- which manages the MySQL codebase -- can compile and release their own versions of the database.

Percona Server also features a number of capabilities not found in Oracle's MySQL, such as a performance schema that can provide user and table activity statistics. The company also offers a query log that can analyze performance of the database software without unduly slowing performance.

With more than 2,000 customers, Percona makes money by offering MySQL support, training and consultations, while releasing its own versions of MySQL and related support software.

According to a 2013 survey by 451 Research, approximately 62 percent of MySQL users deploy the Oracle version, about 14 percent use a NoSQL fork of MySQL called MariaDB, and 15 percent use Percona's version. Percona Server has been downloaded about 700,000 times, according to the company.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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