MySQL 5 to open once-closed doors

MySQL CEO Marten Mickos says the upcoming MySQL 5 database incorporates new features that enterprise users have been craving.

5.0 is going to open up the door for people who were holding off migration until MySQL had all of the proven enterprise features.
Marten Mickos
CEOMySQL AB

MySQL AB CEO Marten Mickos won't reveal the release date of MySQL 5.0, but he does promise that it has all the goodies requested by database developers and corporate users. There are three enterprise-level flagship features in MySQL 5.0: stored procedures, triggers and views. Get the low-down on those features and others in this interview with Mickos and Zack Urlocker, MySQL vice president of marketing.

The question of the day is, when will MySQL 5.0 be officially released?

Marten Mickos: We never promise release dates, as quality is our No. 1priority. We do plan for 5.0 to come out in a production release in the second quarter of this year. It's already been out in alpha for a long time, and customers are using it already. Things are exactly as they should be. When we look at what 5.0 should like and what bugs we have now, it looks good.

Database administrators say their most-anticipated new feature is stored procedures. Why is this addition to 5.0 important?

Mickos: Stored procedures allow people to put some of the application logic in the database. Then, the database will be able to run the procedure on its own, reducing network traffic. That's much needed in enterprises that need to boost speed and efficiency of applications like enterprise resource planning. Also, you can put the application logic on more than one location, if you need that.

It's a very much desired feature. We have customers who say, 'We will deploy by scaling, say, 100 different applications, and three of them will need stored procedures.' So, it's an important feature to have even if customers don't use it for every single application.

Secondly, a number of the legacy applications use stored procedures. So, for anybody who is planning to migrate or switch over or build a similar application to one they've used before, having stored procedures in the database is valuable.

Does every IT shop use stored procedures?

Mickos: There are two schools: Some people say, 'Don't put application logic in the database. Keep it in the application.' Others say, 'Yes, please do put it in the database, because it will help us achieve better efficiency and performance.' Previously, we didn't accommodate these two schools. But now we do.

Some customers are using more of a Web-based architecture with an application server, and they like that approach and don't use stored procedures. For people who come from a client-server background, however, stored procedures is exactly the approach that they use and they want to keep on using it.

How do stored procedures make MySQL 5.0 more scalable?

Zack Urlocker: Stored procedures make it easier to port certain business logic directly into the database server, which can improve scalability and increase the efficiency of performance.

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Do views also add to MySQL's scalability?

Mickos: Views is a feature that hasn't been promoted much, but is vital to our expansion of the enterprise utility of MySQL. It allows developers to create abstraction layers on top of the database, and it makes it easier to develop applications and produce reports.

Urlocker: Views give MySQL 5.0 customers the ability to design their schemas in a fashion that is highly efficient but also flexible at the application level.

How do triggers extend the enterprise reach of MySQL 5.0?

Urlocker: Triggers are a way to execute certain code based on conditions that might arise around how the data is used and accessed. We've had user-defined functions in MySQL for a long time, but triggers are more the standard SQL way of doing things. Now people can use this feature directly.

Triggers allow users to use MySQL in a broader range of applications without having to change their code. It's not that they couldn't use MySQL with those apps before, it's just that triggers makes it easier by allowing them to do things the way they are used to doing it.

These are capabilities that enterprise ISVs [independent software vendors] and corporate database users are used to having. It gives them a little bit more flexibility in defining their arch. It makes it easier to migrate apps that they have already written that are architected in that style, and bring them over to MySQL without having to make major changes to where they're putting the business logic. It's part of the SQL standard.

Could you describe other features that boost MySQL 5.0's enterprise clout?

Urlocker: MySQL 5.0 has XA [extended architecture] support for distributed transactions that span multiple databases. Quite often, XA is used in commercial applications, such as in the retail industry. For example, you might have a store that the transaction is distributed over the local POS database, in addition to the back office database.

Mickos: Technical Alert Advisor has gotten a lot of interest from our beta users. A few weeks back there was a worm that impacted Windows users by stealing passwords. The technical alert feature got a workout. The users were able to set up a profile and inform them of all security alerts.

Technical Alert Advisor can also be set up to alert admins of any change or service pack that would impact MySQL. With this feature, you can set a profile to determine which type of notices you want to receive, which platforms or pieces of software that you want reports on. It's a way to help people to keep on top of any changes in their environment. It also has an update and upgrade advisor that makes it easy for people to get the new updates or upgrade.

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