Interview with MySQL’s Alex Roedling

Today we features a mini-Q&A with Alex Roedling, MySQL‘s Senior Product Manager, about all things MySQL, the competition, technology, licensing and more.1. The new mySQL license is said to not be so compatible with PHP and other software that mysql works together. Is this the case?

Alex Roedling: MySQL offers licensing that is compatible with the licensing terms of most software. MySQL AB has two licensing options:

– For software with proprietary licensing, MySQL offers a proprietary license.
– For use with Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) such as Linux and PHP, MySQL is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL).Some FLOSS licenses (e.g. BSD-like licenses used by PHP and Apache) are not compatible with the GPL. To allow for greater compatibility with FLOSS licenses, MySQL provides a special exception to the terms of the GPL. This enables non-GPL software like PHP and Apache to use MySQL.

2. Are there any of the issues mentioned here being worked on by your engineers?

Alex Roedling: Like all successful databases, MySQL has its own dialect of SQL. The above is a listing of the idiosyncrasies of our dialect. With MySQL 5.0, we will give users the flexibility to continue using the MySQL dialect, or to set a “strict SQL2003” flag if they want to only use standard SQL-2003.

3. How much external help you had from individual contributors after MySQL became open source? Do you get a lot of patches from third parties?

Alex Roedling: All of the contributors to MySQL are employees of MySQL. The MySQL codebase is ‘owned’ by MySQL which is what enables MySQL to implement the dual-licensing model. However, we do get a lot of feedback throughout the development process from our vast user community. Essentially our community acts as a very cost-effective testing and QA resource.

4. Please explain to us the MaxDB concept and how it differs from the Plain mySQL version.

Alex Roedling: MaxDB is MySQL’s SAP-certified open source database. MaxDB enables SAP customers to significantly reduce their database Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). For an example of how MaxDB reduces costs of an SAP implementation visit here.

MySQL Server is MySQL’s general purpose open source database that is widely used in web applications and embedded systems.

5. Can’t help it but compar your business to Oracle’s. What’s the best Way to “steal” Oracle’s business long term? What is your strategy?

Alex Roedling: MySQL has an enormous user base consisting of 5 million users and 5000 commercial customers that we are focused on making successful. So, our roadmap is focused on satisfying the emerging needs of our existing users and customers. For example, MySQL recently released MySQL Cluster which satisfies our customers requirements for high-availability as they rely on MySQL for their mission critical applications.

Many Oracle (and other database) customers find that MySQL is very cost-effective, highly reliable, easy to use and administer database.

6. Please tell us about the new features to be found on mySQL 5.x. Is There an ETA?

Alex Roedling: The major new features of MySQL 5.0 are Stored Procedures, Views and Triggers. A Development version of MySQL 5.0 for previewing and testing new features is currently available for download. The production version is scheduled to be available in early 2005.

The major new features of MySQL 5.1 will be Triggers. A Pre-release version of MySQL 5.1 is scheduled for early 2005 and the Production release will follow late 2005.

7. While MySQL is wildly popular, many insist that PostgreSQL is “better” in a number of ways, however they accept the fact that mySQL development moves faster than PostgreSQL so it catches up quickly. Are you happy with the pace of development, and how do you see your competition to PostgreSQL, Berkeley and FireBird? Do you face it the same way you would do with commercial DBs like DB2, Oracle, SAP etc?

Alex Roedling: We take a customer focused approach to development regardless of who our competitors are. We enhance MySQL based on the needs of users and customers without sacrificing the primary features that has made MySQL successful; reliability, performance and ease of use. One thing we hear our customers say over and over is ‘It just works’. Our customers have been running MySQL for months, even years without any issues or downtime. By listening to our customers and focusing on maintaining reliability, performance and ease of use, we have a winning strategy.

8. According to your engineers, what is the “next big step” in the Database technology in general? What’s the next big thing?

Alex Roedling: 64 bit computing and affordable database clustering for high-availability (99.999%) computing is where we see the next big wave of adoption. Keep in mind, MySQL is in the commodity database business – we provide 80% of what the ‘Big 3’ (Oracle, DB2, MS SQL) provide at 10% of the cost.


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