Five things you need to know about MySQL

1. Rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. Open-source advocates feared that Oracle, which gained ownership of the open-source MySQL database through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, would choke off its development in order to protect the proprietary Oracle 11g database. That hasn't happened so far, as evidenced by two significant MySQL updates this year alone that provided features like additional scalability and better performance on Windows.

2. It's not just for websites. MySQL is historically known for its role supporting websites, particularly as part of the popular Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) technology stack. But it's capable of much more, meaning that CIOs who feel doomed to purchasing more Oracle or IBM licenses when they need to expand or start new projects might have another option. "We are using it as both a transaction-processing database server and a data-analysis database server," says John Miller, vice president of IT at Rimm-Kaufman Group, a Web marketing company. "So it fills all our database needs."

3. You may already be using it. CIOs might not realize that their IT staffers have already implemented MySQL for some project or another, says RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady. This may have happened simply because, unlike Oracle 11g and other proprietary databases, it's free to download and use in production.

4. You don't have to buy support from Oracle. Many MySQL shops are self-supporting, but professional help is available from both Oracle and a growing number of third-party companies. Miller says Rimm-Kaufman Group is paying for MySQL support on an as-needed, hourly basis from provider Percona. "Our need does not justify a full-time position," he says. "Part of that is the platform, the stability of it, and the ease with which we can manage it ourselves."

5. MySQL will live on no matter what Oracle does. Some developers, including MySQL inventor Michael "Monty" Widenius, have created offshoots or "forks" of the database's code base. Widenius has built a services and support company around his version, called MariaDB. Percona has Percona Server, which adds premium features for performance, scalability and other areas to the MySQL core, says Baron Schwartz, Percona's chief performance architect. Overall, the forking trend means that even if Oracle starts closing off new MySQL features to the open-source community, customers will continue to have alternatives.

Read more about data warehouse in CIO's Data Warehouse Drilldown.

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Chris Kanaracus

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