MySQL encourages partners to build data storage engines

MySQL plans to wean itself from dependence on erstwhile rival Oracle by building a data storage engine to work with its open-source database and will encourage other firms to create compatible storage engines, MySQL CEO Marten Mickos said Wednesday.

Mickos said the storage engines, which users can swap in and out depending on their requirements, should appeal to customers moving to componentized, service-oriented architectures (SOA). "We'll let users switch between a V-4 engine and a V-12 without having to get out of their car," he said.

MySQL next week plans to announce at its user conference in California, the release of an application programming interface (API) for its pluggable database storage engine.

MySQL is unusual among popular databases in that it allows users to easily switch between storage engines. Mickos said it offers a more flexible alternative to database vendors such as Oracle and IBM, which sell several versions of their flagship databases with different prices and limitations.

Solid Information Technology, a maker of embedded databases for telecommunications equipment, has already confirmed that it plans to release an open-source storage engine that will work with MySQL. Several other vendors and community projects are expected to announce their plans next week to build a storage engine, though Mickos declined to name them.

The most popular storage engine now for MySQL is InnoDB. InnoDB's parent company, Innobase OY, was bought by Oracle last October, sparking fears that Oracle might cut MySQL customers off from using InnoDB. That didn't happen, and MySQL even renewed its contract earlier this month for Oracle to continue developing Innobase for MySQL users for an undisclosed number of years.

Despite disarming that threat, Mickos said customers are still seeking alternatives to InnoDB. Mickos declined to release details about MySQL's own in-development storage engine, Falcon, apart from saying it will enter public beta testing later this summer. Falcon is designed "to excel for very modern, some call Web 2.0, types of applications."

The conference, co-organized by O'Reilly Media, is expected to draw 1,500 attendees. MySQL will also preview new server functionality in MySQL 5.1, now in beta testing, and MySQL Workbench, an upcoming graphical database design tool.

Confirming that he had recently turned down a buyout offer from Oracle, Mickos said he is amused by the current mania among vendors with acquiring stacks of open-source software, as exemplified by Linux vendor Red Hat's recent purchase of JBoss and Oracle's buying spree in the open-source space. He said the frenzy is at least partly being whipped up by investment bankers looking for business.

"Customers definitely want to concentrate their buying and have 'one throat to choke' for support, but they don't necessarily want monolithic stacks with no moving parts," he said.

Regarding his competitors, Mickos said that free "express" editions offered by the large database vendors "don't give customers any value.... Their only purpose is to eventually force customers to switch to a more expensive database."

And he hit out against those same competitors that characterize MySQL as a featherweight in a heavyweight world, unable to handle heavy enterprise applications. "I love it when my competitors are misinformed," he said. "We run some of the heaviest, real-time, mission-critical applications around."

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