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MySQL CEO Mårten Mickos Answers Your Questions 108

Posted by Roblimo
from the open-source-cheerleaders dept.
You asked. Mårten answered. He even added (and answered) a question he wished had been asked, but wasn't. If you have a comment or follow-up question, please post it. Mårten will spend as much time responding to your comments as his schedule permits.
1) Re:Biggest Problem?
by wild_berry

In light of comments here about PostgreSQL being superior (and F/LOSS) technology but MySQL being used because of "MCSE weenie mentality", are you, Marten Mickos, concerned about the complacency of 'good enough' technological solutions or that Free/Libre Open Source Software may never remove the entrenched market leaders?

Mårten: Not the least. There will always be fanatical supporters of various products and projects, but I would look at what real users are saying. As an example, Nortel, Alcatel and Nokia are building new mobile phone network elements that run on MySQL Cluster. That's leading edge open source technology in some of the most advanced high-availability use. Or take YouTube or some of the other new web successes - they are scaling incredibly fast and again it is open source that powers them (MySQL, to be specific).

It is a common misperception that advanced technology cannot be easy to use. But it can! Driving a Tesla is fairly straightforward, but building one is not. Flying the new Eclipse jet is comparatively easy, but designing and constructing the aircraft is extremely difficult. And although it was pretty difficult to fly Spaceship One out of the atmosphere twice in two weeks, it was nothing compared to the difficulty of designing such a modern spaceship.

2) Perception of low quality for 'free'
by OakDragon

How do you fight the perception that MySQL is not suitable for 'the real world' because it is free?

Mårten: That's a challenge we share with all open source products, and I believe that such misperceptions will be removed over time by the overwhelming momentum of open source at large. So it is not so much a product-specific issue. But we need everyone's help to set records straight.

3) R&D Directions?
by eldavojohn

In a market where people are just looking for stability, simplicity & scalability, where do you turn for innovation in your products? Is there a lot of research and development towards new features and completely new products in MySQL's community or do you aim primarily to do one thing well? How do you influence the direction of this research in such a large open source project? Do you attempt to add direction at all?

Mårten: I am very proud of the innovative power inside our company, but even more important is the notion that "innovation happens elsewhere" (that's a great book that I recommend, as is "Democratizing Innovation"). We just announced a new monitoring and advisory service which we have innovated inside the company and with the help of customers.

But more massive is the innovation that happens in the MySQL ecosystem - in the user space. Look at the XML wrappers, RSS converters, full-text search modules or any of the toolkits that have been developed for MySQL. Or take PBXT - a new transactional storage engine, or the custom-built storage engines that Google, Friendster and others have developed. It is in the interaction with these advanced users that we learn what's useful and what isn't.

It takes a degree of humility and openness (and eradicating any Not Invented Here feelings) to be able to make good use of innovations from the ecosystem. But in return it is a much more productive way. I see it as a Darwinian system where the best ideas survive. Nobody can know for sure exactly where the development is heading, but if millions of MySQL users try out various new ideas, all the right things get developed.

We still need to improve our ability to receive innovations from the community, but I am proud of how far we have come already. Look at the MySQL Forge if you are interested: fforge.mysql.com

4) Re:R&D Directions?
by bzipitidoo

A few questions, only one about the biz. For those of us who like designing and researching and wish to spend our time on that, and don't like the thought of spending time on sales and promotion, or begging for money from VC vultures, or figuring out tax forms, stock options, and such, or sifting through thousands of resumes trying to find a few good people to hire, or knowing when a deal is a bad one to be avoided at all costs, or all the other aspects of business, what are wannabe independent software developers to do? If I try to start a business, it'd be so I can make some money doing what I like, not sink time into the business of business. How'd MySQL handle that when it started?

The parent's R&D question reminded me of another question. A goal of future versions of ReiserFS is to make database programs unnecessary and obsolete. Reiser asserts the only reason you even need a database program is because current file systems cannot do things like efficiently store, access, and query thousands of small records. File systems should be able to do everything a database can do. Apart from the bit about being in jail, is Reiser crazy, or is he on to something?

Anyway, do you recommend or favor some file systems over others for best performance from MySQL?

Mårten: I think you had a total of three questions.

First, when MySQL got going, it initially was run day-to-day by the three founders Monty, David and Allan. In the year 2000 they realised it was growing beyond what they could handle, so they reached out to get a CEO, a board of directors, and VC capital. This is a great model for those who want the company to grow and who are ready to share decision-making with others.

Your other question is about what a software developer of today could do. I believe it is easier to start a business today than 10 years ago, and I believe there are some great avenues to follow. For instance, you can develop open source software that wins the hearts and minds of users, and then you can license or sell the software to a bigger vendor if you want to avoid the hassles you mention.

Mark Matthews is a great example. He had developed the best JDBC driver for MySQL, and then we acquired his software and hired him full-time. JBoss has done similar "acquisitions". Another alternative is to build a website that provides the intended functionality as a service. The benefit there is that you don't have to build a distribution channel, because the web is the channel. And then there can be some great outcomes if you don't want to run your own company. Just look at Flickr or YouTube, for instance, who got acquired by web giants for good sums of money.

Your third question is about filesystems versus databases. If I were a filesystem developer, I might claim that databases will become obsolete. But as I am a database developer, I will claim that filesystems will become obsolete! Humour aside, I don't have a specific recommendation, but I do believe that we will always have heterogeneity in the software world. There will always be several alternative technologies for every single problem.

5) Conflict of Interest
by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF

One of the most common complaints I've heard about the business model of profiting on support for a product, is that it provides motivation to keep the product from becoming very user friendly. After all, if the product is too easy to use, who will pay for support? In my own experience, I've seen a lot of companies that consider support to be insurance, and don't use it for help with installation, configuration, or to overcome usability issues so much as a way to cover their asses in case something goes very wrong. Do a lot of your customers use support to overcome usability problems and if so, does this de-motivate you to solve other usability issues?

Mårten: This is a great question. First, I think closed source vendors are proving the hypothesis incorrect, because they are the ones who have un-friendly products although they have a licence revenue stream. And open source products, which typically lack a licence fee, are the ones with the best user friendliness. Why is that? I think the reason is that popularity is worth more than the marginally improved fees you could get for a user-unfriendly product. Sure, we lose some purchase orders because customers simply don't need our support. But at the same time we gain millions of new users, and they in turn help us develop the product and drive our marketing.

I think one of the reasons MySQL is so popular is that we continue to take user-friendliness seriously. We may joke about leaving some bugs in the product in order to have more support fees, but in reality we take the bugs very seriously. And when we at times have more bugs than we would like to have, the whole organisation is in pain until we get the upper hand and kill more bugs than we produce. Version 5.0 was such an example - when it first came out as GA it had more bugs than earlier versions. It didn't feel good to see the list of incoming bugs, so we rearranged tasks and expanded our QA test coverage in order to fix the situation. I hope you who have used the latest versions of MySQL 5.0.26 have seen the significant improvements.

6) Defects per KLOC
by eldavojohn

Your website touts you as having the lowest defects per KLOC by up to 12 times the industry standard, what do you attribute as the leading factor to your success in this respect? Since cold cash is the traditional method, how do you incentivise code quality in an open source product?

Mårten: I think open source has a wonderful benefit over closed source that often is forgotten: When you know that your work may be scrutinised in public by others, you simply do a better job. It is some magical combination of pride and (fear of) shame.

So I am claiming that the same developers will do a better job of producing open source than closed source software. The analogy is your backyard: why is the backyard never as tidy as the frontyard of a house? You spend more time in the backyard, don't you? And it is you taking care of both the front and the back. The only difference is that your neighbours see your frontyard but not your backyard. It's as simple as that.

Additionally, the reality of the scrutiny, i.e. the peer reviews, ensure that a lot of bugs and defects are detected and removed early. So I am not the least surprised that open source is 12 times cleaner than closed source. The really scary thing is all the stuff that is buried deep inside closed source software, out of the sight of everyone and without any proper stewardship.

7) MySQL business model for niche products?
by MarkWatson

Hello Marten,

First, congratulations on MySQL's market capitalization! My question is:

I have been working part time for about 6 years on software for text/data mining and general semantic information extraction. Almost all of my development is in Common Lisp, but I have ported little bits to Java and released that under the GPL in the past. I view this as a small, niche market, not like MySQL. What do you think that chances are for making money on GPLing a niche product?

MySQL is very widely used so if you capture commercial use icensing costs for a small percent of users, you do very well. For my software, with luck perhaps a few hundred companies a year might start adopting my product. Does it seem like wishful thinking for me to use a GPL based business model like MySQL's?

I want my customers to have my source code for a lot of reasons, but I would also like to capture revenue. I might just end up going to market as a proprietary product that incidently includes source code, with licensing that prohibits redistribution to non-customers.

Thanks for your help,

Mark

Mårten: Good question. I used to state in presentations that open source probably is best suited for products with huge user bases. But I was always proved wrong. Somebody would come up to me and tell about a successful open source niche product. So I have learned that you can be successful with open source in any environment.

I think the key is to provide real value to your users or customers - initially free of charge, but for continuous support against a fee. In that way you can build credibility in your market and gain important insights in what customers need, and you can also build a business. But don't think it is easy to find a business model that fits with free or open source software. It is difficult. But it is possible. You have to take some risks before hitting on the right answer.

8) Commercial vs free - where to draw the line
by Internet Ninja
I work for a good sized business and looked at using the Cluster Jumpstart but when I told my boss the cost and that we'd have to pay for flights he laughed at me, even though we're starting to really use mySQL pretty seriously now for some stuff.

With costs for things like this and gold/platinum support also relatively high on a per server basis it seems there's a wide gap between community based support which costs nothing and enterprise support which appears somewhat pricey.

How do you draw the line for paid vs free support particularly since a lot of SME's are using mySQL and may be unable to afford it? Was it a conscious decision to pitch it high to display value in the product?

Mårten: This is essentially a question of price elasticity. If we lower the unit prices, we may sell more, but will we sell that much more? If we increase the prices, we may have fewer customers but they may be more profitable.

We have an ambition to be affordable and available for all, and therefore our prices are typically a tenth of what you would pay for closed source databases. But MySQL Cluster is a state-of-the art solution that in its own market segment beats all other databases hands-down. The price may sound high to someone from a smaller company, but it is carefully weighed against market conditions. Many customers find that it is not only the best solution technically, it is also the least expensive one. If the price is prohibitively high for someone, then they can always use the community edition and do the work themselves.

9) Achievements & Fallout
by eldavojohn

In your five years as MySQL CEO, what has been your proudest moment? Do you find it difficult to lead a company based on a product that belongs to a community? Do you ever experience any fallout/backfire from running your company on such a business model?

Mårten: Thanks for the question! I felt very proud when we visited Google for the first time and people would come out of their rooms just to see the "MySQL folks". I had scheduled a CEO-to-CEO meeting with Eric Schmidt, but in addition to him we had a dozen developers who all wanted to know about MySQL internals. Fortunately, I had David Axmark (co-founder) with me and he did the technical presentation! Another proud moment was our users conference this year with a thousand or so in the audience, all gathered just to listen to the State of MySQL. Those situations make us realise that we are changing the world - we are making a difference.

The great thing with our business is that we get to pursue goals that we are passionate about. We get to work with the smartest people in the world on the newest and coolest database technologies. We get to stand up to defend the freedom of software and to fight software patents. We contribute to the wealth and happiness of what is called the bottom of the pyramid - people who may not have the financial means to buy software but who have dreams and goals they want to pursue. Of course it all needs to make sense from a financial perspective for everyone involved, so it all needs to boil down to a good business model. But, as I noted, that is exactly the great thing with our model.

But we also need to know that it is very difficult to walk the fine line between freedom of software and freedom to pursue profits. The two are not at odds with each other, but there are overlapping areas where you need to have all details right. We have made our mistakes over the years, and I hope we have fixed them. If we haven't, let me know and we'll get onto it. I am not expecting everyone to agree with our business model, and every now and then we get flamed by someone, but I do hope that people generally respect our business decisions. And so far that has clearly been the case.

A friend of mine just wrote to me: "If you can find a new way for folks to make money from FOSS without compromising fundamentals, good for you. Others can follow your lead. Just don't compromise the fundamentals." That captures the essence of the question very well.

10) Appliance possibility?
by Roblimo (added editorially
because of this discussion)

Now and then we hear rumors that Oracle is going to either come out with its own Linux distribution, sell a single "stack" with Oracle products running on Linux or else sell a complete hardware appliance that runs Oracle on Linux.

Back in 2003 there was a significant PR splash touting database server appliances made in partnership by Pogo Linux and MySQL, but we haven't heard much about that idea since. We know you now have many channel partners, including hardware vendors, but this is not quite the same.

Do you have any plans to come out with either a Linux/MySQL "single stack" software product or a preloaded Linux/MySQL+hardware appliance? And if not, would you change your mind if Oracle started selling either of these products?

Mårten: First, if Oracle launches their own Linux distro, then we take that as a great victory for open source. (And we ask - is the database next?) The most successful distros include JBoss and MySQL and many other products, so we would naturally make sure that Oracle gets all the help they need in putting our product on their operating system.

As for appliances and stacks, I am not sure that we would choose to compile our own stack. There are so many tempting business models and products, but to really grow fast there are just three main rules: Focus, Focus, and Focus. In our ecosystem we have many partners who could provide a stack, and we are very supportive of them. HP has the Linux reference architecture, Pogo their appliance, and Sourcelabs and Spikesource came out with software stacks. The power of open source and the power of LAMP is in the collaboration between the companies, not so much in what one single company can accomplish.

11) What about community?
(inserted by martenmickos himself)

MySQL is enormously popular and has a vibrant ecosystem, but it seems that the core product is primarily developed in-house. Are you at all interested in contributions, and what are you doing to stimulate community engagement?

Mårten (answering his own question): Initially, although open source, MySQL was developed by just one person - our founder Monty. Over the years we have expanded the group of developers both in-house and in the community. But we have more work to do. We need to make the product more modular so that it is easier to contribute distinct modules (such as storage engines or full-text search modules). We need to document the source code better (we are doing it with Doxygen). We need to make the contribution process as easy as possible.

We have very strict requirements on quality and ownership of intellectual property before we put something in the commercial product, but in the MySQL Community Server we are becoming much more open to contributions. We also need to set up websites and systems for broad collaboration in our community.

Planet MySQL has become a great aggregator of MySQL blogs, and the MySQL Meetups are popular local events. The MySQL Forge is a place for contributions, and soon we will launch the Winter of Code program with coding contests. For the most passionate MySQL users and developers there is the MySQL Camp in November (mysqlcamp.org). And of course all of us will get together in Silicon Valley in April for the annual users conference.

But no matter what we organise on behalf of MySQL AB (by the way, AB means "Aktiebolaget" i.e. "Incorporated"), the true value of the community will always be generated by the community itself. We are still on a learning curve in terms of all the possibilities that this offers. So please share your ideas with us. What should we do more of and what less? How could we bring together MySQL users from all over the world to accomplish bigger things? How could we together change the world for the better?

It is amazing what open source has accomplished in the last 15 years, and I am even more excited about what it can do in the next 15. But my excitement is anchored in our community. Alone I can accomplish nothing, but with the help of millions of users worldwide, we can accomplish just about anything.

I hope I answered all questions clearly and conclusively. Let me know if I missed anything.

Marten

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MySQL CEO Mårten Mickos Answers Your Questions

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  • I know three local(ish) MySQL employees, and they're all great people who've been pretty much the best at what they do.

    So shouts to Arjen Lentz, Stewert Smith and Colin Charles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:18PM (#16518275)
    The MySQL CEO's responses are very fast, but he still lacks ACID compliance.
    • by Jay Pipes (997549)
      Hmm, you must be referring to Marten's interview from before *2001*, then? ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by aminorex (141494)
      Indeed, the hippies will never be satisfied until every CEO in the world sees the light through ACID.
  • Thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:18PM (#16518283) Journal
    If you have a comment or follow-up question, please post it. Mårten will spend as much time responding to your comments as his schedule permits.
    I have one comment: Good answers to the questions. And thank you for your valuable time! It's nice to know that MySQL has an intelligent respectable CEO. All too often we concentrate on the Patricia Dunns of the world, it's people like you that make me second guess my claim that I would never want to be CEO of a company.

    On that note, one last question I had though of would be, "Do you view yourself as a typical CEO or an abnormality in the pay-band of sharks that upper corporate America so often seems to be?"

    Thanks again!
    • Re:Thanks (Score:5, Informative)

      by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:39PM (#16518551)

      Thanks for the question. I don't know what kind of CEO I am. I am just following the instincts I have developed over the years - from being a boyscout when I was young to engaging in all kinds of business and non-business activities in my late teens and twenties, and later. Most of the time I have chosen to do what is fun rather than what could have brought fortunes, so perhaps I am different in that sense. But as CEO my task absolutely *is* to create fortunes. Perhaps you should ask people who have worked with me or work with me. They may have a better perspective.
       
      Marten
  • These are good responses. I, as a reader, appreciate the time you put into this. I have been a fan of MySQL for a couple years now and really appreciate the product. In my circle, MySQL 5 has come out as a serious competitor to SQL Server because the few thing we needed in SQL Server (stored procedures) can now be done in MySQL. This is fueling the considerations of embracing more open source products in our organization.
    • by Shados (741919)
      If the only need you needed from SQL Server was stored procedures, there was a ton of alternatives a long time ago. And stored procedures are (to some extent) being phased out by other things. That being said, when you set up SQL Server, Oracle, etc, its not for a feature from 10 years+ ago. Its for things like Business Intelligence service integration, data mining, etc.
      • by x-vere (956928)
        It was only an example. However, another reason to stick with SQL over other things is skill sets available, rigidity and comfort zone of decision makers etc. I should have realized the need for greater detail as the inevitable did in fact happen. Someone felt the need to flex their muscles.
        In my experience, smart choices are often passed up for easier choices.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:21PM (#16518319)
    MySQL is facing extreme competition from above and below. PostgreSQL is currently expanding both upwards towards Oracle and DB2, while concurrently expanding downwards towards MySQL. On the other end, SQLite is rapidly putting upwards pressure on MySQL. We find that both of these alternatives have a much friendlier licensing scheme than MySQL, and both have features and quality that MySQL currently lacks.

    How will MySQL respond to these threats? With SQLite being a suitable replacement for low-end tasks, and PostgreSQL proving excellent for anything beyond what SQLite can't do, is there really any need for MySQL these days?

    It's no doubt that people will continue to use MySQL for years, just due to their current investments in existing MySQL installations, as well as the time they spent learning MySQL. But beyond that, does MySQL have a future?

    • ... at a job interview. Been plenty of times where I've been asked about MySQL. I don't think there is any danger of MySQL not having a market.

      Just do a search on Monster. 101 job hits come up on Postgres. 3 job hits come up on SQLite. Thousands of hits come up when searching for MySQL.
    • by KZigurs (638781) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:43PM (#16518605)
      Yes, it has. It has the best windows installer (don't laught. This is THE reason.)

      Also - been to computer book store recently?
      • by Ant P. (974313)
        The OP is spot on. Besides being easier to install, MySQL has things like the PHP MySQLi interface. SQLite actually has a better PHP interface IMO, but sometimes it's literally impossible to get things done with it.
      • by nuzak (959558) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:33PM (#16519387) Journal
        Both postgres and mysql use MSI to install on windows, and both install a windows service. Postgres even creates a postgres user account in the installer and installs its service to run as that user, while mysql runs as .\LOCALSYSTEM. Postgres has lots of checkboxes in its installer for the various features you might want, like GIS, RTree, etc, while MySQL has a few nice options for setting defaults based on the expected use pattern.

        Speaking as someone who installs both on workstations all the time, I can say the out of the box install experience is pretty much identical.
        • by brokeninside (34168) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:54PM (#16519713)
          For quite some time, installing PostgreSQL on Windows was either a long and complicated process involving manual creation and configuration of user accounts and manual registration of services or installation of Cygwin. Back in the late nineties and early oughts when MySQL started to gain its mindshare ascendency over PostgreSQL, getting PostgreSQL to run well on Windows was something of a tiresome task. For some of us, the payoff was well worth it. For those looking for a quick and dirty solution, it wasn't worth the hassle.
        • by killjoe (766577)
          It's taken them a long time but postgres does have a nice windows installer. Now they need to make it easy to set up replication and clustering and get some nice admin tools.

          Oh support for GUIDs would be cool too.
          • by nuzak (959558)
            > support for GUIDs would be cool too.

            It'd be nice if they packaged it with the installer, but this works: http://www.hclausen.net/psql.php [hclausen.net]

            The nice thing about postgres is how extensible it is. In my own project I'm using an optimized version of the cidr type for IPv4 addresses only (since that's all I support anyway), and it's blisteringly fast. Custom operators and indexes rock (as does Pl/PgPython, though I'm no longer using it in that project)

            The admin tools for all the open source databases pretty
            • by killjoe (766577)
              Tghanks for the tip. Postgres is indeed very extendable and very capable. It's just not that easy. Slony is so much harder to set up then mysql replication, slonyII is dead as far as I can see. No clustering in site either.

      • On the lower priced web-hosters, PostgreSQL has been almost non-existant. That is just begining to change.
    • by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:57PM (#16518839)

      In free software and open source communities it is often believed that MySQL's competition is Firebird, Postgres, and SQLite. But I see it differently. Those products are of great quality and they will definitely continue to have strong followings (that may very well grow). Taken as a group, we compete with each other for the hearts and minds of open source developers, and thereby we also (each one of us) become better over time.

      But elsewere it is MySQL that creates the competition. We are successfully scoring victories over the "big three": Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. That's where the main battle is being fought. We draw strength from our enormous user base in the FOSS community and use that to compete in the commercial world. That market is estimated to be 15 billion USD. Many of you may not care about business and dollars or euros, but as CEO I do, and I know that by winning in the commercial market, we get money for which we can develop more FOSS software that you then can use and modify and re-distribute and so on.
       
      Make sense?
       
      You also have a comment on our licensing scheme. My view is that it is unfavourable only for the ones who are trying to close-source their apps without giving anything back. If you are all FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), you can use our software completely freely. If you wan't to close something, we will be happy to sell you a closed licence. In summary, we have a business model that works, which is what allows us to grow the organisation, support FSF, fight software patents. etc. But I continue to be interested in your suggestions on how we can improve our model. Have a look at the MySQL Forge and our new program for encouraging congtributions, for instance. Does that make sense to you and is it a change to the better? If not, what would be? Thanks!
       
      Marten
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The question was about the future. While you're correct, MySQL may be edging into the commercial market at this time, what's to really stop PostgreSQL, or even SQLite, from eventually doing the same?

        I gather than MySQL is only ahead at this point because more people know of it. It does get far more press coverage and shelf space at bookstores than PostgreSQL gets. But people are beginning to learn more about PostgreSQL, and it's use is growing. The same goes for SQLite.

        Frankly, I don't think many companies
        • by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:42PM (#16521235)

          OK, sorry for not understanding the question. Here is what we do about the future:
           
          Thanks to its popularity, MySQL has become a platform for innovation. By this I mean that increasingly, other innovators are attaching their leading-edge technology to ours, thus enhancing the overall competitivess of the product.
           
          We did it ourselves with MySQL Cluster. That's technology originally developed by Ericsson - and today it is an absolute category leader in telco and networking. Nokia, Alcatel and Nortel are all building real-time network nodes on top of MySQL Cluster. No one else has a main-memory based shared-nothing cluster with that high throughput and availability. Or take the new Monitoring and Advisory Service that we are launching as part of MySQL Enterprise - this is a novel innovatoin built on the feedback from our most advanced users and customers.
           
          As for partners, there are companies developing special-purpose storage engines for MySQL, with the help of which we will be able to lead in new markets. Others develop encryption technologies, data synchronisation, or something else. Whether it is produced by the community, by partners or by ourselves, these innovations will help provide the new solutions that the world needs.
           
          I think you are saying that software business is essentially an innovation battle, and I agree with you. We innovate in production models, organisational models, business models and most definitely in software technology. But, of course, we must not get complacent.
           
          Marten
    • by julesh (229690)
      PostgreSQL is currently expanding both upwards towards Oracle and DB2, while concurrently expanding downwards towards MySQL. On the other end, SQLite is rapidly putting upwards pressure on MySQL. We find that both of these alternatives have a much friendlier licensing scheme than MySQL, and both have features and quality that MySQL currently lacks.

      Err... while I buy the fact that pgsql (as a BSD licensed product) has friendlier licensing than MySQL (GPL with commercial licenses available), SQLite is also GP
    • by shmlco (594907)
      I agree that one of the drawbacks to the licensing schemes is the price, but really, that's unavoidable. In closed-source software, you have thousands, if not millions, of people who pay some small amount for the product and that, in turn, buys down the costs of support, maintenance, and R&D.

      In an OSS project like mySQL, almost all of those people are using it for free. And without anyone to buy down the costs mentioned above, paid support costs and licenses must be higher, as the people who are there t
  • Nothing much said (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650)
    This is a CEO talking. He is incapable of really talking techie - so it should be no surprise that his answers sound very "fluffy". He is, after all, the CEO, charged with the task of maximizing the public image of his company.

    He all but refuses to give advice where he's uniquely qualified to do so. (you have to really read between the lines to see that he does, in fact, answer the question, but in a VERY indirect way) He doesn't really comment much on any tech questions other than to paint pictures of dais
    • With the exception of the question about how they achieve such a low defect/KLOC rate, none of the questions really begged particularly technical answers.
    • by brokeninside (34168) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:39PM (#16518553)
      He's a CEO and he spoke to the business side of each question. For example, look at his question about whether MySQL was going to get into the database appliance market. He said point blank that MySQL AB is going to focus on their engine and let others do the integrating of software/hardware. That is a direct, non-nonsense answer.

      Further, many of the questions were very poorly formed, especially in light of the fact that they were being directed to someone running a business rather than writing code. For example, the question of whether databases will be deprecated in favor of file systems. From a business perspective that is a meaningless question as the functionality remains the same. It makes no difference to a company like MySQL whether they're selling their engine as a MySQL DB or MySQL FS. He even hinted at the lack of differentiation in his answer that of course the fs folks say that the db will go away but we see it as the fs going away. If the fs and db merge then it follows that db vendors become fs vendors and vice versa. Its not really a very interesting question from the business perspective other than it puts competitors from two separate market segments where they are notin competition with into a new market segment where they are in competition with each other.
    • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:00PM (#16518887) Homepage Journal
      I have mod points, but I just had to respond...

      Are you freakin kidding me? Despite focusing on the business aspects of each question, these are some of the most straightforward and insightful responses I've seen in a slashdot interview. While he briefly touted a few new services and features, he focused on answering the questions instead of turning it into an infomercial. If a MySQL developer were asked the same questions, you'd definitely get a more technical response, but considering he is a businessman, these responses are excellent. The example people are giving about him sidestepping the filesystem vs database question is one place I thought he gave an exceptionally good answer. Instead of getting into a pissing match with the ReiserFS folks, he basically said that every situation can have multiple solutions, which is exactly the same thing that the programmer's motto TIMTOWTDI states.

      Overall, I think he did a very good job in answering every question. If slashdot wants a more technical response, they should ask a lead developer for the interview.
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Dude, he has a /. account; you can't get more techy than that. ;p
  • What is the best advice/suggestion that a person just starting to use PHP+MySQL could get ?
    • by lemur3 (997863)
      ...and what recent developments could make it easier to learn/use ?
    • by KermodeBear (738243) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:20PM (#16519159) Homepage
      Two things.

      One, make sure you have a strong foundation in OO programming. Yes, I know; PHP isn't strictly OO, but the structure and discipline it takes to write code in an OO language will help you out immensely since you can apply a lot of the same principles.

      PHP isn't a great first language. It is extremely loose and it is easy to form bad habits early. But, if you are disciplined, you can rapidly produce good, reusable code.

      Second, learn some database theory - especially normalization. A great book that I still refer to is "Database Systems: A Practical Approach to Design, Implementation, and Management" by Thomas Connolly and Carolyn Begg.

      So, ultimately, the best advice to a person just starting with PHP/MySQL is to get a good foundation in the fundamentals of programming and database systems.

      Once you have that, it doesn't matter what language or DBMS you use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        ESPECIALLY NORMALIZATION!!!

        Of course, once you learn about normalization, you might not want to use MySQL anymore...
    • by Ant P. (974313) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:32PM (#16519369) Homepage
      Never put a variable inside a mysql_query().

      There's a 99% chance it'll fuck you over with an SQL exploit. And with the other 1%, you still get the query cache rendered useless from storing hundreds of small variations on one or two query strings.

      Use prepared statements for anything that doesn't completely fit between a pair of single quotes.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#16521293)
        Replying anonymously because I moderated on this story.

        I would qualify your statement somewhat. Never put an untrusted variable into a mysql_query(). Of course you can (and should) put variables into a query, but use mysql_real_escape_string() first.

        Your comment about the query cache makes no sense though. If you're making different queries, then the cache won't be used no matter what. The only point I can think of that you're trying to make is that, allowing someone to pass in a string directly means they can change the case, which wouldn't change the result of the query, but will change whether the query cache is used or not. This is a different problem though, which can be solved any number of ways. It's certainly not a critical reason not to pass a variable into a query.
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:30PM (#16518433) Homepage
    With all this discussion of free-as-in-free and free-as-in-beer...

    What is your favorite carbonated alcoholic beverage?
    • Re:Beer as in Beer? (Score:5, Informative)

      by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:01PM (#16518917)

      I enjoy most of them! Somebody gave me a can of "Martens Lager" from Belgium (a famous beer country) so that's a favourite. I am a great fan of Guinness, especially when I visit London and Dublin. I've come to like Samuel Adams and Anchor Steam in USA. In my native Finland I enjoy Karhu ("bear"). The list is longer but I'll stop here.
       
      Marten
      • Let me guess.... You'd like to drink more, but you don't have the time??
      • by raddan (519638)
        Being from Boston, I am obligated to like Sam Adams. But the locals really like Harpoon. If you care for IPAs, you need to try Harpoon IPA the next time you're around here.

        Thanks for the great interview. Just finished setting up another MySQL DB just this morning. I suggest you pick up a Duchesse de Bourgogne (Flemish beer) as a reward for all your hard work :^)
      • by 19061969 (939279)
        Try Leffe - one of the best beers in the world (and I've tried a few!)
  • David Axmark (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I met one of the co-founders at our Linux user group (www.flux.org). He's a great speaker and *extemely* humble. If you get a chance to see him speak, do so..
  • by anomalous cohort (704239) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:47PM (#16519617) Homepage Journal

    I'm surprised that there were no questions about the real crisis facing MySQL which is that their two most reliable transactionally aware storage engines, InnoDB and BerkeleyDB, are now both owned by their competitor Oracle.

    Isn't anyone else here concerned with that or is it really true that MySQL is only used as a relationally aware ISAM?

    • by T-Ranger (10520)
      And both of those are under OSS licenses, so if Oracle starts being a dick about them, MySQL AB can just fork'em. Depending on how much of a dick Oracle becomes, AB may be able to hire away entire dev teams and only miss a month or so of working time.

      The question boils down to if you think Oracle bought these companies/products in an effort to shut them down, or to continue working on them and making money on them. The former is just absurd as the risk of failure (from Oracles perspective) is almost infinit
    • by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:59PM (#16521503)

      Great question and I am happy to address it. I'd say there are three main responses to your question:
       
      First, you can't kill a GPL product by just acquiring it. If you as the owner continue to maintain it (as Oracle has done so far), nothing bad has happened. If you stop maintaining it, the community will quickly take over and make sure the software stays uptodate.
       
      Secondly, I believe that the open source world has a self-healing mechanism built in. When something disappears or is at risk at disappearning, replacements quickly emerge. Completely on his own, Paul McCullagh developed the transactional PBXT storage engine for MySQL. And our partner Solid did the same. Check out their website http://www.solidtech.com./ [www.solidtech.com] There are other storage engines in development and under design.
       
      Thirdly, as a company we are ensuring that there are strong transactional storage engines available for MySQL. MySQL Cluster is one and the Falcon project is another one. Falcon is a modern transactional storage engine built by Jim Starkey (known as the inventor of MVCC and the one who coined the term blob) on basis of technology he had developed and that we acquired. Falcon will soon come out as alfa.
       
      The acquisition by Oracle of InnoDB (i.e. Innobase Oy) sent some shock vibes through the open source community a year ago, and perhaps rightly so, but I think we can be proud of what has transpired since then. As for Sleepycat (and their engine BerkeleyDB), it never was in any real use inside MySQL and after looking at the technology we decided a long time ago not to pursue that alternative.
       
      Overall, there is another learning from all of this. It is a step towards increased modularity of MySQL, which in itself makes it easier for others to contribute code. We have taken an "architecture of participation" as a priority for us, and making the product modular is one important step in enabling participation. If you have good ideas on how to achieve higher modularity and enable more contributions, let us know!
       
      Marten
  • by nuttycom (1016165) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:17PM (#16520079)
    Unfortunately, I missed the initial call for questions, but are there any plans for MySQL to support bi-temporal queries? Tracking history of values in a database is a problem I'm constantly running up against, and there doesn't seem to be a vendor out there who is addressing the problem.
  • mysql is more difficult to use then postgresql because of missing features and features that do not work as expected. For example when you try to join views that just works on postgress (and other databases) but mysql can not use its indexes so that the join is not realy feasable time wise . Not having views makes a lot of problems more difficult. The stored procedures are nice but also have some terible rough edges that makes using them very difficult. having to think about what kind of table to use is al
    • by Toba82 (871257)
      Could you be more specific? I'm MySQL 5 in my current work and if there is a problem with lack of index utilization when using views I could see some serious problems down the line.

      More to the point, what version of MySQL have you experienced this problem in?
  • I have seen statements where people from mysql have said that the pluggable storage engines for mysql ( e.g. MyISam , InnoDB) are a big advantage. I have found the differing storage engines to be troublesome in real world use as you have to take into account the table type to know what features you can rely on. For example

    no referential integrity/ transactions in MyISam

    no full text searching in InnoDB

    Differing backup and restore procedures for the different engines.

    Are there any plans to upgrade
    • by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#16521663)

      I should leave the technical questions to our technical experts.
       
      But quickly, the benefits of the storage engine architecture is very tangible for advanced users with heavy loads and different loads on different sets of data. Over time, we will work on streamlining the api's and the syntax so that you don't have to be concerned about this issue. But, typically, those who need to use multiple storage engines typically also will be happy to make use of their specific features although they slightly differ from each other.
       
      Marten
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jamesday (794888)
      We're adding many of those features (fulltext searching, common backup) to a layer above the storage engines, so all engines will eventually have many of them. One particularly important project is a new backup system that makes it easier to handle all of the engines. MySQL Forge has the design documents for the new streaming online backup API [mysql.com] and feedback to the team is much appreciated if you see any ways to improve it.

      Transaction support needs to be in the storage engine and it's useful to have storage

    • > Differing backup and restore procedures for the different engines.

      Actually Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL [zmanda.com] provides a uniform method of backing up all storage engines.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Martin, here's hoping you are reading at score 0.

    Every time I see a MySQL presentation, I ask the same question.

    When will MySQL get sequence support.

    The answer is generally the same. A shrug, something about how MySQL already has AUTO_INCREMENT, and "why would you need anything other than that?". Maybe you don't have the best speakers in Australia, but they've seemed woefully ignorant of the entire point of what a sequence does.

    For a number of more interesting algorithms, sequences are amazingly useful or
    • by martenmickos (467191) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:37PM (#16525379)

      I am reading you.
       
      Thanks for the proposal on sequence support. In our company I am not the one to decide on features or present timetables or roadmaps on them. But I am very happy to take your suggestion to our engineers. We get tons of suggestions for new features, and it is difficult to decide which ones to do and in what order. The more people want a specific feature, the more likely we are to implement it.
       
      And perhaps you could help us? If you can design it for us, or even contribute code, that goes a long way.
       
      Marten
      • by Omkar (618823)
        I don't use any database software, but I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am by this interview and your responses in the discussion. As a student who is trying to decide on a career path, your example is heartening - most businesspeople I have met have been vaguely slimy.

        • Thanks for the kind words! It is always stimulating to hear from others what they think of us. (Of course it is most stimulating when it is positive, as in your case, but if not stimulating it is at least useful when it is negative.)
           
          Marten
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Hi - Marten passed your request onto me and I'd like to thank you for letting me know about your need for sequences in MySQL. Like you, I like sequences and used them a lot in my Oracle days so I know how valuable they can be. To be honest, I haven't fielded a lot of requests for sequences, but that doesn't mean we can't look into adding support for them. We're about to launch a new product feature survey (likely in early Nov on our Dev/Community zone), and I've now added sequence support to the poll be
  • Database innovations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <imipak @ y a h o o .com> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @12:24AM (#16525633) Homepage Journal
    There have been many attempts to distribute databases, but there are enormous problems with the approaches typically used (point-to-point makes for very slow synchronization, nobody seems entirely sure what/where/how to parallelize, there are usually single points of failure, etc).


    Another area that has been worked on has been to allow database developers to embed more and more complex SQL-based scriptlets and "helper" functions into the database. However, it is a truism that interpreters (even of bytecode) are painfully slow and offer nothing that a module plugin mechanism wouldn't have (provided you could install modules via SQL statements) and most developers would be better leaving data processing to the clients rather than the server anyway. (The closest I've seen was Informix' blade technology, and that was horribly unreliable and tedious.)


    The bottom line is this: There have been a lot of database innovations over the years. Some - I'd say most - have been great ideas but the popular interpretation and implementation has been terrible. This is not the fault of any of the ideas, but I would take it as suggestive that programmers are not being as imaginative or creative as they could be.


    My question? How can a database company:

    • Combine the artistry vital to any creative effort with the architectural precision needed to make the art something special?
    • Keep things recognizable enough to be usable, without repeating everyone else's mistakes?

  • Hi Mårten, I can't pronounce anything that's not on my keyboard, so how do you pronounce your name?

    • I pronounce my name in whatever language I am speaking. So in English, it is something close to "Martin". In my native Swedish language, it is pronounced like "Morten" with a rolling R. You may have noticed that in Norway, that's how they spell that name too ("Morten"). And in Denmark they used to write "Maarten", which at the same time is the most official way of transcribing my name. But I like simple solutions, so feel free to spell it Mårten or Marten and feel free to pronounce it any way convenien
      • This has been the most inspiring collection of responses from any CEO through any media I have ever come across. It will certainly make me think twice about about my database product recommendations next time round.

        Thanks for spending the time to listen to us geeks :o)

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein

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