Oracle has updated its MySQL Cluster software to make it more appealing to large Web service providers, among other users of large-volume distributed databases.
MySQL Cluster 7.2, released for general availability Wednesday, "is a huge step forward for MySQL Cluster, taking it further into the Web market," said Tomas Ulin, vice president of MySQL engineering for Oracle.
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Two features in particular will help with such duties. The software now offers a Memcached API (application programming interface) that allows applications to access data directly rather than go through the SQL engine. The software also implements a speedier way of executing complex queries, or queries that involve joining data from multiple tables.
With these two new features, MySQL Cluster can offer the best attributes of both SQL and NoSQL databases, Ulin explained. It can rival the fast key value operations of NoSQL, while still offering the ability to do complex SQL queries of a regular SQL database.
MySQL Cluster is a version of the open-source MySQL database that has been configured to run across multiple servers. It is designed in such a way that if one server, or node, fails, then the cluster retains all data and continues to operate without fail. It uses a shared-nothing architecture, in which the cluster has no shared memory or disk space, a trait that helps systems scale to an unlimited number or nodes.
Traditionally, MySQL Cluster has been widely deployed in the telecommunications field. "You can go to any continent and find mobile networks that have deployed MySQL Cluster," Ulin said. Telecommunications companies enjoy the cluster software's ability to scale easily, as well as the ability to recall data no matter how recently it was written to disk. They also enjoy the fact that MySQL Cluster can run on low-cost commodity servers, Ulin said.
With this release, Oracle has prepped MySQL Cluster with new features that should make it particularly well-suited for large-scale Web applications, Ulin said. "We've seen telecoms and Web merging together. The requirements for the telecommunications industry are becoming requirements for the Web industry: [very] low latency, high availability and scaling. We see a very good fit here," Ulin said. The software would be suitable for Web service tasks such as user profile management, session management, online gaming and high-volume OLTP (online transaction processing).
MySQL Cluster 7.2 is the first version to offer access to its data by way of a Memcached API. Used by many large Web service providers such as Facebook, Memcached creates a hash table of commonly accessed database items that is stored in a server's working memory for quick access, by way of an API (application programming interface).
"Persistent Memcached is a useful thing," said Curt Monash of Monash Research, noting that sales of the Couchbase NoSQL database, built on Memcached, have been quite strong.
"MySQL has always given good performance when used just as a key-value store," Monash said. "So it's reasonable to hope the Memcached interface will have good performance out of the box."