MySQL plug-in plus Amazon's S3 equals database storage

It may be an ideal solution for Web companies with multimedia files

An independent developer has created a free plug-in for the open-source MySQL database that lets users inexpensively store their data on Amazon.com's Web storage service, S3.

Mark Atwood, a Seattle-based developer, said his plug-in would be ideal for Web-centric companies that need cheap, reliable storage -- Amazon Web Services charges 10 cents per gigabyte per month -- over fast performance.

For instance, companies operating Web sites that store "huge quantities of images that are only accessed occasionally" might find the technology ideal, Atwood said.

Atwood presented the still-in-development plug-in, which has been eagerly anticipated online, at the MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday.

MySQL is unique among databases in that it boasts a modular architecture that allows users to swap in different storage engines depending on their needs.

That was highlighted by an earlier announcement that IBM would integrate MySQL into its System i line of midrange servers and create a special version of its DB2 database to serve as the MySQL storage engine on that platform.

Pairing S3 with MySQL opens up access to MySQL's plethora of applications and grants MySQL database administrators access to the data using SQL commands rather than Web services interfaces such as REST or SOAP.

New York-based OnForce uses MySQL, and Chief Technology Officer Venkat Gaddipati said he would be interested in using S3 in conjunction with MySQL. The company, which provides an online marketplace for IT workers and recruiters, generates many completed contracts in graphical form that it needs to keep in a reliable, long-term archive but access only occasionally, he said. S3, which backs up customer data in multiple locations, would fit the bill, he said.

Atwood said his plug-in for now only offers rudimentary SQL commands such as index reads, single-row writes and single-row deletes, though he plans to add more. He also said that no data is stored on a local disk. That allows MySQL to perform more speedily, but could make some users nervous about potentially losing data in case of an outage, network-related or otherwise.

For that reason, Atwood conceded that users concerned about "speed, privacy and regulatory reasons" may prefer a local storage engine such as Oracle's InnoDB, MySQL's MyISAM or its forthcoming Falcon. Atwood also hasn't decided if and how he plans to sell the plug-in.

"If people want to buy a license, we can negotiate it, though I am thinking it's more likely I would get paid for non-recurring engineering and fixing work," he said.

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