Oracle angles MySQL for Web apps

Oracle has released version 5.5 of its open-source MySQL database

With the release of MySQL version 5.5, Oracle is marketing the open-source database for Web application duties, while targeting its namesake Oracle database for enterprise applications.

"We see them as being very distinct for different use cases," said Monica Kumar, Oracle senior director of product marketing.

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On Wednesday, the company released version 5.5 of the open-source MySQL database, the first major upgrade to the software since Oracle acquired it when it purchased Sun Microsystems in January. Now that Oracle stewards two general-use relational database systems, it must distinguish where each one should be deployed in the enterprise.

"MySQL is a great database for Web-based applications, for custom departmental applications and for embedded uses. And the Oracle database is the leading enterprise database for high-end packaged applications: enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, online transaction processing, large data warehouses and business intelligence applications," Kumar said.

"The two products complement each other and fill in a variety of use cases," Kumar said.

Which is not to say you couldn't use the Oracle database for Web applications, but historically MySQL has been mostly used with the Web, Kumar said. She mentioned how MySQL is part of the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP/Python/Perl) stack, which is widely used for deploying websites and Web applications. "It's been very successful in the Web-based application space," she said.

Another consideration for choosing mySQL over Oracle in the Web space is personnel. In many cases, a LAMP administrator would be more familiar with MySQL than with the Oracle namesake database, said Tomas Ulin, vice president of MySQL engineering. "It makes it easier to run with MySQL if for no other reason than the actual developer is used to MySQL."

In addition to the usual round of bug fixes and general tweaks, the newly released 5.5 version of the software also features a number of significant features and capabilities. Chief among those is better scalability and improved replication.

In terms of performance, the software doesn't slow as dramatically as it once did when it handles a large number of concurrent connections. For Web servers that may accept up to 1,000 connections at once, this can be a welcome addition. The software can also offer additional performance gains when increasing the number of server cores beyond four, which previous versions were unable to do.

General performance has been improved as well. In internal benchmarks, Oracle showed that MySQL 5.5 showed a 360 percent improvement in reads and writes over version 5.1 running on Linux. On Windows Server machines, that performance gain jumped over 1,500 percent. "We get higher throughput in general with 5.5," Ulin said.

In terms of replication, the software now includes the ability to do semi-synchronous replications. Previous versions only offered asynchronous replications, meaning the backup copy of the database would not be updated as soon as new data was entered to the original.

"Once you've committed something on the master side, you couldn't be sure when it would get to the slave side," Ulin said. With semi-synchronous replication, the application committing data to the database doesn't receive confirmation that the data has been entered until it has also been copied to the backup database as well.

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 Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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