MySQL upgrades with enterprise features

Version 5 of open source database MySQL was released this week with a few enterprise-grade features, including stored procedures. A Forrester Research analyst points out, however, that these features have been available in other open source databases for some time.

It's not quite an Oracle or IBM database yet, but open source MySQL is catching up to the giants when it comes to enterprise features.

Version 5 was released Monday by MySQL AB of Sweden. It includes, for the first time, stored procedures that simplify the development of enterprise applications.

Stored procedures are SQL statements that are stored in a database in compiled form, so that multiple applications may access them in a standard fashion. MySQL 5.0's stored procedures integrate server-side cursor support, and that improves scalability, MySQL officials said in a statement.

Stored procedures, however, are not unique to MySQL in the open source database market. Both PostgreSQL, which was upgraded last month (to version 7.4), and Berkley DB have had these features for some time, according to Forrester Research Inc. principal analyst Ted Schadler.

"This is a set of enterprise features that are part of every enterprise database. Server-side cursor procedures, for example, are a 'gotta-have' for transactional databases," Schadler said. "That said, in terms of features, this is not very interesting. But they are enterprise-class features, and it shows a slow, steady growth of another layer of the open source stack."

MySQL is the darling of the open source database market, because of some decent marketing, a solid business plan, its general association with Linux and the support of enterprise application maker SAP AG.

"SAP is behind this company with labor and code; it's a big deal," Schadler said. "Now it depends how far up the stack they go. I think they'll go to the application server and database."

Other new features include functionality to enhance portability and migration, internationalization, and general usability, MySQL said in a statement.

The alpha version released this week is intended for testing by developers in the open source community. A general release is expected this summer, once bugs have been reported and fixes made.

MySQL is available for free under the GNU General Public License, or customers can buy a license from MySQL AB for support and services.

"Businesses and government organizations are already saving millions by integrating MySQL as a cost-effective complement to their IT infrastructures," said MÅrten Mickos, MySQL AB's CEO. "By supporting an even broader set of industry standard database features, we have extended the range of enterprise applications that can benefit from the performance, reliability and cost reduction that MySQL offers."

A recent code review of MySQL by Reasoning Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based automated software inspection service provider, deemed the open source database six times cleaner than its proprietary counterparts.

"Many people believe that the open source model enables development teams to focus on quality, versus adding features and meeting deadlines, and that, consequently, this leads to better quality code over time," said Reasoning's director of marketing, Thomas Fry, at the time. Reasoning found 0.09 defects per thousand lines of source code. More specifically, the company analyzed 236,000 lines of MySQL code and found 21 errors. Comparable proprietary databases contain 0.57 coding errors per thousand lines of code, Reasoning said.

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