Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn pump up scaling for MySQL

Big names come together on WebScaleSQL for better scaling among companies with heavy database demands

Look no further for a sign of MySQL's success than its breadth of use in companies both big and small. But the bigger the company, the greater the need for database solutions that scale well, and getting MySQL to both scale up and scale out has its fair share of challenges.

Engineers from four of the biggest names out there -- Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter -- have decided to pool their efforts in getting MySQL to scale. Called WebScaleSQL, this new collaborative effort involves taking the existing scale features found in MySQL and adding more features based on the demands specific to each of their environments.

The long-term plan is to create a collaborative branch of MySQL that's kept in sync with the current release version of MySQL, starting with version 5.6. According to the project's own FAQ, this is not a fork, but rather a branch "focused specifically on the challenges of deploying MySQL at our scale." To that end, the WebScaleSQL folks are not providing pre-built binaries, since "the focus ... is to provide a common set of code changes that groups can use as a base to apply further changes that are relevant to their use case."

The group also elected to choose MySQL over MariaDB or other database products because "[MySQL] has the production-ready features we need to operate at scale, and the features planned for MySQL 5.7 seem like a fitting path forward for us."

Most of what's been produced for WebScaleSQL so far involves a framework of automated tests to ensure WebScaleSQL builds and performs properly, along with a slew of performance improvements and features specific to WebScaleSQL, such as some new query optimizations and support for NUMA memory interleaving.

Some of what's being brewed up under the WebScaleSQL umbrella is to be submitted back upstream to the main MySQL project as well. One such contribution: an asynchronous MySQL client that doesn't block when attempting to connect, send, or retrieve data. This was cooked up by Facebook itself, apparently as part of the same general collection of internal performance improvements that resulted in the HipHop virtual machine and the Hack language. Each of those projects helped speed things up in a different problem domain, with HipHop and Hack on the front end and WebScaleSQL at the rear.

The temptation to make a full-blown fork of MySQL remains strong, what with Oracle keeping stewardship of the project and interest in MariaDB, a community fork of MySQL, also spiking. It's entirely possible another party will come along and create a fork of its own out of WebScaleSQL if demand arises, but the narrow focus of the project makes that unlikely right now.

WebScaleSQL project has its own GitHub repo, with the code available under a GNU GPL v2license.

This story, "Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn pump up scaling for MySQL," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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