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MySQL A Threat to Bigwigs? 505

Disoculated writes "Is MySQL a threat to bigwigs? is the question asked in CNN's technology section. The article notes that MySQL is running perhaps 20% of the web databases but its revenue is merely 0.02%... yet the company is still making money and putting out an excellent product. Is this a sign that the database market is in for a drastic change? Of course, there's no mention of PostgreSQL or mSQL, but I guess that's typical."
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MySQL A Threat to Bigwigs?

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  • by Daveman692 ( 558544 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:40PM (#5525809) Homepage
    It all boils down to how MySQL 4 is looked upon. Big sites already use MySQL, as seen here, but will version 4 have enough features, be robust enough, and provide the support to convince those running things such as Oracle to switch.
    • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:49PM (#5525876)
      I think the issue is that MySQL is very adequate for 99% of all users including most large enterprises and certainly most websites. Even if it is adequate for only 90% of them it's a huge threat to the big guys. There will always be a niche for the big guns that handle huge databases with many, many simultaneous updates. But that's a small fraction of the total universe of database installations and I don't think it's enough for the big guys to continue to be profitable.

      • by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:16PM (#5526010) Homepage
        Considering the way MySQL is (ab)used, flat text files, serialized data structures/objects or XML files would be very adequate and just as convenient for what 30-40% of what MySQL is used for. Mind you, they would be sufficient for what 30-40% of the big boys of enterprise databases are usually used for, but they're often applied when they're actually needed.

        That isn't to say that I am against using databases, but the overhead of MySQL is often pretty absurd for very simple dynamic websites (hell, a lot of kinds of dynamic web sites) and desktop apps managing a relatively small amount of information. If a DB was integrated into the OS as the preferred method of storing data, with the overhead paid for across many apps in increased convenience, it'd be worth it. But why the hell should I need to install MySQL just to maintain a list of todos and contacts? Look on Freshmeat- there is a torrent of applications using MySQL for managing small amoutns of data, both web and desktop apps.

        It's too bad most Linux developers aren't interested in doing something really forward-thinking. If there was a DB integrated into the OS, and apps encouraged to use it, with avenues of data management made easily available to the user, computing could be actually pushed ahead by Linux. But not today, and probably nor ever.

        Oh yes, my point: most of these apps would do fine with a flat file or (if one must get fancy) an XML file to manage this data.
        • by -eddy ( 20859 )
          If a DB was integrated into the OS as the preferred method of storing data...

          Isn't that what Microsoft calls the Registry?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Peformance isn't what matters. No one cares about the MySQL overhead. SQL is a very *convenient* abstraction and way to access your data. It is easy to setup, and then to process queries. Even if people abuse it, it works. And for 90% of these applications working is good enough.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          There are two camps of thinking on this: the flat file people, and the relational database people. I think I'm from somewhere in between.

          Much of the time, someone starts working with flat files and ends up wasting a lot of time writing, testing and debugging code that simply does the file handling work. Sure, a database may be considered "overkill" for some tasks, but most of the time it's worth it just for the time you save not worrying about that extra layer.

          Plus, it is a heck of a lot easier later on
        • It's too bad most Linux developers aren't interested in doing something really forward-thinking. If there was a DB integrated into the OS, and apps encouraged to use it, with avenues of data management made easily available to the user, computing could be actually pushed ahead by Linux. But not today, and probably nor ever.

          An application integrated into the OS? You mean like Internet Explorer?
        • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @12:42AM (#5526867)
          I disagree with the idea that small projects should use flat files or XML in place of MySQL. First of all, the flat file only looks good while there seems to be a single entity in the system - let's say person. It rapidly turns into a convoluted mess when a second entity rears it's head - let's say a person can have multiple cars. Second, many applications end up developing reporting requirements that were not envisioned in the original design. That's what makes relational databses great - ad hoc reporting.

          Another way to put it - as the application grows in complexity, more functionality will be added to the data store as the programmers painfully rediscover all the challenges which real databases have already conquered. Of course MySQL doesn't cover all of those, like ACID, but it covers most. Look at the amount of effort that went into MySQL, Postgres and Oracle - it's huge.

          Of course, you may be thinking of simpler applications than I am. If the data can legitimately be represented by one table, with no denormalization, then I agree a database may be overkill.
        • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @12:53AM (#5526912) Journal
          Actually, this is an interesting point, but it isn't as valid as you make it out to be. There is absolutely no good reason to embed an RDBMS into an operating system. Not at the level that you are referring to anyways. If you mean filesystem attributes, then that is a different fish, but making a database part of an OS is a bit much.

          XML and flat files are good for data that does't change very often, and are only ever edited by a single user. (XML is also a good way to feed data fram a database into an application) Beyond that, they are pretty useless. They require far too much time on the developer's part when data within given contraints are needed, and coordinating updates between multiple processes can easily turn into a nightmare. Not to mention scalability. XML can get pretty large, and due to the non-indexed nature of the data, it can take a long time to read through it all looking for what you need. For many applications, using a database just makes sense.

          The whole point of an app using a database is to offload the storage specifics onto another program. I applaude the developers of these "MySQL (ab)using programs" for making the decision to focus on their products features and stability, rather than on how they will store their records. Besides, once you install MySQL (or Postgres) once, then it is there for all of your DB dependant apps to use.

          Not to mention the fact that MySQL 4 has standalone features that make your argument pretty moot. Any application can link in the MySQL core at build time, and will be able to have it's own MySQL databases separate from any active system wide MySQL instance. This gives developers an SQL storage system, without requiring the user to install a database on their own. It just comes bundled with the app, and when the app loads, the MySQL core is loaded right along with it.

          I'll keep using databases for storage, and flat files for configuration data, thanks though! ;)
      • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:32PM (#5526092)
        MySQL is very adequate for 99% of all users including most large enterprises and certainly most websites.

        I used to be a big fan of MySQL, mostly because it was moderately capable and free. Now that I have tried Postgres though there is no way I would go back.

        Yes, version 4 will be an improvement, BUT it is still missing many key features like views, triggers, full outer joins, update with subselect, that are already present in Postgres, and the fact is I've been using the features that MySQL is promising for the future for a year and a half now.

        The following site does a very good comparison between the feature sets of MySQL, Oracle and Postgres. me nts/all/html/db_compare/db_compar_chp01.html

        • by rycamor ( 194164 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:42PM (#5526130)
          Yes, version 4 will be an improvement, BUT it is still missing many key features like views, triggers, full outer joins, update with subselect, that are already present in Postgres, and the fact is I've been using the features that MySQL is promising for the future for a year and a half now.

          Not to mention column and table constraints, stored procedures, extensible datatypes, user-defined operators, query rewrite rules, and schema and domain support.
          • Not to mention that the current version seems to have a mysterious problem with randomly melting databases.

            I'm bookmarking this story so next time my database melts I can come here for a quick laugh before going off to repair it.
        • by skillet-thief ( 622320 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @07:28AM (#5527995) Homepage Journal
          Yes, version 4 will be an improvement, BUT it is still missing many key features like views, triggers, full outer joins, update with subselect, that are already present in Postgres, and the fact is I've been using the features that MySQL is promising for the future for a year and a half now.

          One thing that probably keeps a lot of users (esp. web people) loyal to MySQL, is the fact that they learned SQL on MySQL and don't really know what else it should be doing for them.

          In fact, that is where I am right now: just realizing the limits of what MySQL can do and tired of writing various hacks via PHP or Perl to get around certain weaknesses.

          But I think that a lack of SQL culture could keep many users locked into MySQL when other DBs might be better for them.

    • by rycamor ( 194164 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:06PM (#5526225)
      Oh, this oughta be good. So, because MySQL 4 will now support transactions, foreign key constraints and (someday) subselects, that means it will compete with Oracle?

      What about the following data integrity and relational features (shared by both Oracle and PostgreSQL)?

      - Multi-Version Concurrency
      - stored procedures
      - triggers (and PostgreSQL has declarative query RULEs, also)
      - column and table constraints
      - user/schema support
      - domains
      - extensible data types (so-called "complex" datatypes)
      - user-defined operators

      (sigh) Yes, I understand that not everyone needs these features (actually, they need them more than they realize, but they lack awareness), but to the people that use these features all the time, MySQL will not be a replacement anytime soon. In fact, the lowly old Microsoft Access has more relational data integrity features than MySQL.

      It's not that it is bad at what it does, its just that most people don't realize what it does. As someone else in this Slashdot thread mentioned, the best place for MySQL is as a replacement for the older non-relational systems such as BerkeleyDB, DBASE, etc... I also se it as a convenient place to store static data output from larger systems (company stores its main data in Oracle, but outputs snapshots to MySQL for high-volume web serving, etc...).
  • Cool and amusing. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fatboyslack ( 634391 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:43PM (#5525830) Journal
    Yet wouldn't you say that its poor business sense to underprice any product (comparitively) by a factor of 10^3?? Maybe its just my 'capitalist pig dog' instincts, but selling a quality product so short... or is there something I'm missing?
    • Fair price? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kabir ( 35200 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:52PM (#5525892)
      Look at it this way: if MySQL cost as much as, say, Oracle, almost no one would use it. Dramatic underpricing is one way small companies can attract customers in the face of competition with behemoths like Oracle. So there's that reason.

      The other thing is, why, exactly, should the price of database software be so high anyway? If the company behind it is able to make a profit then I'd say that the price they set is a fair one. That's a concept that gets lost a lot in a pure capitalist approach: just because you can charge more money for something doesn't mean that you must, or even that you should. People on /. (and in general) often complain of "unfair" pricing (CDs seem to be the big bugaboo around here, but every group of folks has something like this... lately in the US is gas ;) ), why should database software be any different?
      • Re:Fair price? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kfg ( 145172 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:42PM (#5526351)
        On the other hand there is little reason for MySQL to cost as much as Oracle because it is an entirely different product, aimed at, at least historically, an entirely different market.

        If MySQL evolves into a legitimate competitor to Oracle, *in the same market*, then it will instantly become necessary to reinvent MySQL. Perhaps we can then call it "Classic" MySQL.

        I use MySQL specificly because it is *not* Oracle, or even anything like it.

        And that's without even getting into the fact that using grep and perl on text files would be the appropriate technology for many of the uses MySQL and other small footprint databases are currently used.

        Hammers come in a variety of shapes and sizes because so do nail like fasteners. Nail like fasteners come in a variety of shapes and sizes because it would be idiocy to hang a picture with a railroad spike.

        There's a saying, "The right tool for the right job."

        Perhaps you've heard it before?

        As for your second point, virtually all software is ridiculously overpriced on a *fair* market value basis. They are able to get away with it in corporate software packages because a) The software generally replaces even more expensive services, and b) Because corporate buying policies are retarded due to the fact that most of the buyers aren't taking the money out of their own pockets, so, as my granny used to say, "What the fuck."

  • typical (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hubertf ( 124995 )
    of course it's typical to only hear of mysql.
    Or do you hear of anyone mentioning NetBSD (etc. :) when there's a talk about Open Source software? No, it's all Linux...

    - Hubert
  • by srn_test ( 27835 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:49PM (#5525873) Homepage
    We used to use mySQL, but moved to postgreSQL for performance reasons, and we're glad we have.

    On the postgreSQL general mailing list, people rarely talk about mySQL anymore (let along mSQL). It's (mySQL) is generally regarded as a good alternative to the Berkeley DB stuff (i.e. non-relational), whereas postgreSQL these days gets lots of traffic from Oracle people wanting to go somewhere cheaper.

    Oracle mustn't be happy, I'd think.
    • However we use MySQL, MS SQL Server and Oracle (different solutions/architectures). I don't see the pricing problem with either MS or Oracle. You can get the standard editions for around $1500.

      Sometimes paying a little can save lots more in the long run. I personally hate Transact SQL but it's probably because I started on PL/SQL first.

      However, that being said I just don't understand some of the stupid ass implementations in TSQL.

      MySQL is great because it's small, cheap(free), and very reliable (in my us
    • by j3110 ( 193209 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {llerretmas}> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:03PM (#5526214) Homepage
      I agree.

      I've developed my last application for MySQL. Everytime the server looses power, I have to ssh into client's servers and tell them how much data they've lost (repair table). It's not a happy time, and buy a UPS is not reassuring (most have them, accidentally bumping power switches/knocking cables loose still happens).

      InnoDB doesn't have this problem, but then again, it has buggy key problems on all of my servers. Sometimes it can't find a record that is there (often this is worse than just loosing the record... you can't create a duplicate). I have to periodically rebuild the index on inno, so I scrapped it too.

      I've used postgreSQL before, and it seems MUCH more robust. It can be a little slower on certain queries, but I'll sleep better after my clients are ported over. I also get updatable views, custom objects, sub-selects, embedded procedures (in a variety of languages), transactions, cross table deletes/updates, and speed when I take advantage of key clustering and these other features rather than hacked solutions for sub-select. I've seen people select "delete from table a where bid=\"""\"" from b where c=3 into outfile d; then run mysql -u user -p d

      Sure vacuum could be automatic when there is a great degree of fragmentation, but those are scratches compared to the gaping holes in MySQL like ACID compliance. I've looked at version 4, and it changes the queries so much that I would have to port my app to version 4. It's best I go another route than be disappointed again.

      It sure does help Oracle migrants that pgplsql is about the same as Oracle's plsql :)
      • Hi!

        Can you describe the index problem in more detail? Please send a bug report to

        - What MySQL version did you use?

        - Did CHECK TABLE report the table ok?

        - What kind of SELECT queries did you execute and what did they report?

        - Are you aware that in the AUTOCOMMIT=0 mode you have to COMMIT your read transaction to advance the consistent read timepoint? Some users do not know this and then wonder why committed data is not visible in another connection. InnoDB serializes read-only tra
      • Everytime the server looses power, I have to ssh into client's servers and tell them how much data they've lost (repair table). It's not a happy time, and buy a UPS is not reassuring (most have them, accidentally bumping power switches/knocking cables loose still happens).

        this is not the fault of the DB this is the fault of the data-owners.

        Obviousally your clients have very little value to their data as they do not have the proper equipment to protect it. Power switches getting bumped? what are they ru
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:54PM (#5525903) Journal
    It seems oracle is going nowhere in terms of its core market. I am hoping its eating middle end and low end databases like ms-sql server. Access in the low end isn't going anywhere because of its gui and development tools.

    I wonder about Sybase and Paradox which seem to be mid to high end of the market which Microsoft really hurt and now so its mysql.

    I tried out mysql and its ok but postgreSQL is alot better for a RDBM. Its no wonder that RedHat picked postgreSQL for its database product. In Asia the situation is opposite of the west and all the technical books are for postgreSQL.

    I just find it hard to believe its eating Oracle's or IBM's core markets. Mysql is a simple bicycle vs a high end car in comparison.

  • That depends... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:56PM (#5525914) Homepage Journal
    A lot of the viability of any product is based on who is selling it as part of an end to end solution. More and more developers are doing this with MySQL, but most of these developers are doing it for relatively low end applications. The "high class" consutlants and developers will be using DB2 and MS SQL forever, because a) they're told to do so by the people who can fire them b) they're used to it, and used to touting its glory c) they have a ton of tools for it.

    Furthermore, there are some applications that just don't make any sense to switch. An example is government databases. I'm working right now with a state government database written on top of Sybase, and i don't think it's ever going to move off of Sybase unless the company tanks. There's actually three pages of (somewhat unfounded) explanations as to why it can't be ported to MS SQL. Mostly bullshit about WACOM SQL being incompatible with Transact (which begs the question, why not just use Transact in the first place when MS' and Sybase' version are about 80% similar). Can you imagine the developers, who have big enough egos to include three pages of MS SQL Server bashing in their docs, redoing their whole bloated app just so it can run on a free environment? Lord no! Not to mention the cost to taxpayers, who have already footed massive bonds to pay the usually high up front costs for software. Think they're going to pay a hundred k for some developers to rewrite everything in a free environment when they could just pay a few thousand for a Sybase license?

    Do I think that truly open minded (some would say wise) development houses looking to cut costs on new systems are going to go MySQL? Absolutely. But there'll always be a place for the behemoth server app, not because it's better, but because it's PERCEIVED as better.
  • Threat? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:58PM (#5525927) Homepage Journal
    It could be benefical for big databases. With free and widely available databases more and more applications will rely in it, and for those applications that need to grow more than the actual database can, then there is where the big databases come. After all, all are SQL based, is easier to migrate an application from mysql/postgressql/msql/interbase to oracle/redbrick than, well, a non sql database to a sql one.

    In a job I had to migrate an application done originally in clipper to web/sql/etc, and choosed mysql because I thinked that it will be enough, but if not, the migration to a new sql server will be a lot faster and less complex than the first one.

  • "Ethically Obliged"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Landaras ( 159892 ) <neil&wehneman,com> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:01PM (#5525944) Homepage
    From the article:

    Anybody can download the product for free and use it for whatever they want, but in so doing they become ethically obliged to share any modifications with the company.

    The GPL does not merely give you an ethical obligation to share your modifications with anyone you distribute them to. It gives you a legal obligation. Until shown otherwise by a court, the GPL is legally binding. As such, stating that the (presumably only) obligation that someone modifying the code has in an ethical one furthers the outdated notion that all pieces of Open Source Software are amateur projects that are only held together by people who choose to donate their time for whatever higher reason. Not that there is anything wrong with volunteering your skills, but there are major businesses investing time and money in OSS.

    From a business standpoint, OSS is legitimate. It would be nice if CNN reported it that way.

    Note: I contacted regarding this when they first posted the article. Predictably, I have not yet received a response.
    • by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:27PM (#5526068) Homepage
      I don't think the writer was confused in that the GPL is legally binding rather than ethically binding. That is, the GPL only legally requires you to redistribute your code if you pass out/sell the binary, not if you make the changes for your in-house setup. However, if I am a business using a heavily modified version of MySQL, adding tons of great features that make it a real player with real enterprise databases- but not sharing or selling the binary, there is still an ethical obligation- not a legal one, pressure from the community at large to share your changes. You see it all the time in the Linux community in especial.

      That is how I read that statement, and from that standpoint, the author is correct.
  • by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:02PM (#5525947) Homepage Journal

    From the posting:

    Of course, there's no mention of PostgreSQL or mSQL, but I guess that's typical.

    This article has all the signs of being the effort of MySQL's PR firm. Nothing wrong with that; they didn't mention PostgreSQL or other OSS databases because their desired outcome is to increase awareness of MySQL, not the others.


    • That is the way that things tend to work in the magazine world. In this case, since MySQL is not that big a fish, Fortune's editor tells some junior writer, "Forbes and BusinessWeek have run articles on open source software in business. Do something on open source databases." The junior writer then looks at the figures, sees that MySQL is the most popular of the OSS db's, sees that there's an actual company behind them, and calls up MySQL AB's press office. Said PR firm basically sends him an outline, w

  • by Hamstaus ( 586402 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:02PM (#5525948) Homepage
    MySQL is a phenomenal product, in terms of just how much a small to medium size business can accomplish with it, for so little cost.

    Having to use a data-storage solution like Oracle is simply unfeasible for anyone but large companies. I've been using MySQL for 3 years to build web applications, and I've never had a crash or corrupted data. The only problems I ever ran into was when one of my systems had a table get to 2GB on the 2.2 kernel, but that wasn't MySQL's fault ;)

    With the inclusion of InnoDB, MySQL definitely becomes a threat. The main problems I've run into with MySQL is backing up/restoring without locking up the whole system (table-level locking). InnoDB of course removes this!

    I see no reason to use Oracle over MySQL for anything but the largest system. Then again, why even that? Doesn't Slashdot run on InnoDB...?
  • by Misha ( 21355 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:02PM (#5525949) Homepage
    you probably won't find too many databases on the 'net that need the kind of performance some commercial brands give. so i wouldn't say the drastic change is coming, unless companies start putting their payroll records for the web to see.

    our company actually puts mysql onto websites, but no client comes (at least for us) and says 'can you replace my blah-blah db version blah point blah with mysql'. we usually put mysql as a replacement for product databases, forums, etc. which previously were stored in text files or worse. and we usually do this for clients who simply can't afford anything and haven't invested into updating their site in 1-2 years. if they can afford it, they usually already know what they want, and it usually doesn't come free in a cvs snapshot.
  • by jfisherwa ( 323744 ) <jason.fisher @ g m a> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:08PM (#5525974) Homepage
    Put a wrapper/installer around MySQL or PostgreSQL that lets you import a SQL Server database dump -- including stored procedures.
  • Mindshare (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:18PM (#5526023) Homepage Journal
    MySQl being more popular than Postgres has a lot to do with mindshare than product quality. Take me, for instance. I set up apache for the first time a month ago, and I wanted a db server for some things. I had heard of both MySQL and Postgres, but I had been bombarded with the words "LAMP" and MySQL guide/tutorial/howto so many times in the past that my first thought was to give MySQL a try. I found it was already installed on my machine, had lots of documentation, and had no learning curve - no complaints at all. So, Postgres didn't even get a fair consideration from me. Of course, you might say that newbies and students like me don't count, but keep in mind that I might become a database admin some day, at t which point I would have a lot more experience with MySQL than Postgres...
    • Re:Mindshare (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:31PM (#5526545) Homepage
      With all due respect, you're not going to make a very good database admin if your experience is limited to MySQL.

      Much as I wouldn't hire someone who's sole unix experience was with Linux (for any position other than Junior anyway). You simply learn a slew more tricks of the trade when your experience is diversified. When making a decision, you can usually back it up with a decent reason rather than simply "It's what I'm used to".

      Nothing against Linux or MySQL. I've said the same to people who have solely used Oracle on Solaris.
  • transactions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nemeosis ( 259734 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:26PM (#5526056)
    MySQL is good for certain applications, where you only read data, and don't write too much data. This works out especially well for most web sites, since they serve information, but doesn't necessarily allow too much information to be posted by the user.

    Lots of message boards on the web use MySQL as their database, because even though people are uploading comments, the amount of data that they upload isn't all that much. Slashdot for example, a popular discussion could prompt 500 messages to be posted in 15 minutes, but still, that's not that much information.

    The key word here is transactions, the constant reading/writing, downloading/uploading of information on a massive scale, where each occurence is audited. And I think that's where MySQL has its weakness. PostgreSQL is supposed to be a bit slower, but it takes transactions into account. Red Hat's database software runs on the PostgreSQL engine specifically because of this.

    Banking and finance applications require this accountability, because it's just that important. Websites don't need that accountability and overhead, which is why MySQL shines for web servers.
    • MySQL is ACID (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Imperator ( 17614 ) <slashdot2.omershenker@net> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:08PM (#5526439)
      MySQL does have transaction support and is fully ACID-compliant--iff you use the InnoDB table type. This also allows you to use foreign key constraints. However, it's not as fast as MyISAM and doesn't support certain features (e.g. fulltext indexing).

      In my (informal) tests MySQL/InnoDB is less than half the speed of MySQL/MyISAM but still about 50% faster than PostgreSQL for simple and small tasks. That said, PostgreSQL has more features than MySQL and I still prefer it for most tasks.
  • Missinfg Features (Score:5, Insightful)

    by juergen ( 313397 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:32PM (#5526089)
    As long as MySQL doesn't conform to all of ACID, it won't be used by serious players. So all those who use Oracle etc. and need a real RDBMs won't even try to switch. There was a lengthy discussion (or should I say ranting) over this in user comments in the online MySQL manual, but it looks like they removed that. Here's the best link I could find: Manual/ACID [].

    All those who can live with less, well, IMHO having these features still makes development of sound applications so much easier it pays off having it. PostgreSQL has most of Oracles features, conforms fully to ACID, costs the same or less as MySQL (nothing, compared to MySQL which is virtually useless free without the commercial table handlers), and there are some companies supporting it too.

    In my experience an application which does correct error checking and handles faults etc. is not faster in MySQL than in most other DBs, just harder to write. And there are alternatives to PostgreSQL, if you don't like it.

    Jürgen Strobel
  • by vinyl1 ( 121744 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:32PM (#5526091)
    I work at a heavy-duty Oracle shop. I would say that Oracle has gone way beyond being just a database vendor, in that they provide a complete--but proprietary--environment. Since I haven't needed to use many of their features in the past, I had never realized how complex their software is.

    I can't believe MySQL doesn't even have subselects yet. I've been living on subselects and 'connect by' for years. I never did like PL/SQL all that much, but it does allow you to run complex programs over the network without creating high traffic. And SQLNet does make things a lot easier. The whole thing is kind of like a database flavor of Unix, with its own world of commands, scripting tools and permissions.

    As for Oracle's 'fancy' products, like Express, Forms, the OID, Portal, and Workflow, they are serious attempts to extend the database principles into a generalized suite of enterprise-level business tools. They are a little too cutting-edge for my taste, but you won't find anything like this in a non-proprietary product.
  • Why not mySQL? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:40PM (#5526121)
    Philip Greenspun wrote a short and excellent article on ACID compliance. The article is 3 years old, yet mySQL still has problems as they developers don't seem to believe that ACID is important. Open ACS on "Why Not mySQL" []

    mySQL is, unfortunately, a SQL interface to a bunch of files based on various index sequential access methods. It gets its speed by ignoring transactions, triggers, stored procedures and other things that, when your company is successful, will need in its database. mySQL's replication is also not guaranteed and when its spotty, it doesn't tell you.

    The open source DB community is a powerful force with a lot of potential and a lot of success. That success is in markets where transactions are low and/or not critical to the customer.

    mySQL and others need to ensure that they have these features:

    • stored procedures (implementation outside of the A in ACID aren't complete - perl, java, python, etc)
    • Referential integrity, foreign keys, transactions
    • hot backups where you don't have to take the database down to get a backup with guaranteed integrity.
    • reliable replication (argue away, only shareplex, NT SQL server & Sybase have it today)
    • sub selects
    • temp tables
    • function based indicies
    • automatic partitioning
    • rollback (true rollback w/transactions)
    • triggers
    • block and row level locking. A select on a 50 million row table shouldn't lock the table.
    • joins that do not lock tables due to full table scans
    There are a lot of good reasons for using mySQL as a platform to begin the development of a project. For personal use, it's hard to beat! If you are a professional in a company that needs to support real clients with real data with real guarantees, spend your money on a real database.

    Where do you want to spend your R&D money? On your product or on the database that does most of the things you need, but not all of the things you need. Don't you want to spend your time building the product that pays your salary and makes your customers happy? Why spend time on the database, just buy something that works.

    One more thing, a not unreasonable architecture for a database driven application is:

    • UI layer
    • Business rule/application layer
    • Application Programming Interface
    • Stored procedures (potentially hundreds)
    • Database
    Good luck.
    • Re:Why not mySQL? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hrunting ( 2191 )
      The article is 3 years old, yet mySQL still has problems as they developers don't seem to believe that ACID is important. Open ACS on "Why Not mySQL" []

      Well, the ACID qualifications have been satisfied by MySQL through the InnoDB handler for over two years. Other issues, such as advanced SQL features, are still in progress.

      But to the original point, I think it's a good thing that MySQL doesn't think that ACID is important. They have different priorities. Their priorities do not lie in makin
  • No. It isn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:41PM (#5526129) Homepage Journal
    MySQL is not a threat to the bigwigs, because they compete in different realms. MySQL is a threat to filesystem-storage and BerkeleyDB.

    PostgreSQL is a threat to the bigwigs, however.

    This is not to say it won't change. MySQL apparently is trying to implement features that would make it compete with real relational databases, but last I heard, views weren't on the list, so I'm not holding my breath.

    Other OSS projects that may be a big threat include SAP DB (used to be Adabas D) [] and... uh... right. There you go. Reply if you're a real DBA and think there's another competitor in the space of true relational RDBMSs. Hint: If you think MySQL could be on the list, you're not thinking of industrial strength databases.
  • Surprised.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrimeNumber ( 136578 ) <PrimeNumber@exc[ ].com ['ite' in gap]> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:47PM (#5526154) Homepage
    I am frankly surprised that MS SQL Server was ranked along oracle and DB2 as a 'high end' DB. Anyone who has had to work with it usually disagrees!

    Personally I have seen SQL server most on small/medium size business environments. Any large 'enterprise' sized business deserves what they get if they are dumb enough to rely MS SQL server. Look what happened to Bank Of Americas ATMS when the last MS virus du jour made its rounds.

    I think MySQL is the best bet to reduce Microsofts share of the DB market. Oracle is better, but small business isn't willing to fork out that kind of cash, especially in this economy. MySQL is especially perfect for the small business web site, and with Microsoft irrationally increasing subscribtion fees and forcing upgrades, a good percentage of their customers will be running into the open arms of MySQL/Postgres.
  • by Jeddawg ( 215180 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:18PM (#5526276)
    This discussion seems to be omitting an entire market segment of database engines. For instance, Advantage is a powerful database server that's priced at less than half the cost of M$ SQL Server, and Oracle. It's not a "free" product, like MySQL. In addition, Advantage isn't limited to SQL, which is nothing more than a limited reporting language, meaning, it's much more flexible to utilize Advantage than either of the products you seem to be comparing. And, No, I don't see MySQL as a threat at all to products such as Advantage.

    In addition, MySQL isn't really all it's cracked up to be. Features such as page-level locking, (used by MySQL) and locking escalation (used by M$ SQL) will degrade performance in a multi-user application. So, while MySQL is great for a web-server, developing/deploying an application that uses MySQL can cause undesired performance degradation when multiple users are simultaneously accessing the data.
  • SQLite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ddkilzer ( 79953 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:21PM (#5526288)

    SQLite [] claims to be twice as fast as both MySQL and PostgreSQL, and is more SQL92-compliant and ACID-compliant than MySQL.

    Does that mean everyone should drop MySQL and PostgreSQL for SQLite? No. It means you have to evaluate your situation and choose the best tool for the job.

    Personally, I've have very good luck using PostgreSQL [], and probably won't ever consider using MySQL until it is truly ACID-compliant.

  • My Story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SloWave ( 52801 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:24PM (#5526295) Journal
    A couple years ago I started a large hardware conversion project for a major telco. One of the requirements was a fairly large database to support real time call processing. I had already told the customer that I would only do the job if it was on a non-Microsft platform so I didn't need to worry about them wanting SQL Server. However, since they were a large telco I assumed that they wanted a well know commercial product so I proposed either Oracle or Informix - their preference. Their director of DP said something like "it's too bad we can't use MySQL" since they were using it for some smaller applications, unknown to me. My next comment was "do you want to use MySQL?". The answer was "yes, provided it could do the job". I said "I will make it do the job". Now it's been about two years and MySQL has almost faded into the background. It just runs, unlike my experiences with Oracle and Informix where you have to constantly administer them. That's my personal experience, your mileage may vary depending on your skill and attitude.
  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Man ( 684 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:42PM (#5526354) Homepage
    mySQL is appropriate for upwards of half of all web applications, and could easily own that half of the market. However, that doesn't mean it constitutes a serious threat to the large proprietary database vendors, because that half of the applications are mostly using one or more of:
    • Microsoft Access
    • Flat files
    • XML files
    • Static content
    • Client-side scripting
    • A large-scale database being drastically underutilized
    to perform their various functions. In most cases, those functions would be faster, easier to implement, and simpler to manage using mySQL.

    For applications with these types of functions, which do not include complex queries, large transaction volumes, rigorous reliability including transaction log backups, recovery, replay, and replication, mySQL represents a major force. Unfortunately for mySQL and those who would have it take over the world, there's not much money available for those applications. Therefore, expect to see mySQL's installed base continue to increase while its revenue-based market share remains small.

    For applications which do require features and levels of reliability and capability not offered by mySQL, postgres is the only serious freely-available contender. Even so, postgres is also somewhat less capable than Oracle or DB/2 and will be confined to the middle tier of applications - those which require better reliability and scalability than mySQL can provide but for which funding is scarce. Postgres probably does represent a serious threat to Microsoft's SQL Server, if only because Postgres is platform-independent and supports platforms which can scale beyond anything Windows can run on. Both are otherwise middle-tier products which are not and will never be taken seriously by the largest and most demanding database users.

    Who are those users? Banks, government agencies, stock exchanges, payroll and records processing firms, insurance companies, large multi-site call centers, and other huge-scale enterprises. The top proprietary databases offer capabilities that do not yet exist in the Free Software world. For these users, who are less than 1% of all customers but which represent maybe 80% the revenue in the market, there is no substitute. These customers will stay with their existing solutions - Oracle, IBM, Sybase - until the systems running them give out. Then they'll call that company's professional services department and offer them a few million more to upgrade the system. That's the way it works. The system has to be attacked one customer at a time, an expensive and time-consuming process consisting of many lunches, legal bribes, and unrealistic promises.

    I think the answer to whether mySQL is a significant threat to dominate the market economically is pretty obvious. Even if mySQL moves up to the middle tier to compete with Postgres and MSSQL and is installed in every application for which it is suitable, the product would still command less than 10% of the revenue in the market.

    What a silly question.

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:53PM (#5526384) Journal
    I don't know why people insist on comparing MySQL and Oracle. Oracle is huge and bloated, but it runs pretty quick, and is chock full of the sort of features you need if quadruple redundancy and data integrity are a must. If I'm working for a company that can afford the licensing, I'm Oracle all the way...There is no commercial product that really compares.

    On the other hand, if I'm dealing with a company that can't toss around the kind of money that you have to have for an Oracle DB, MySQL is my number one choice. I can slap the GUI of my choice on it, take care of data security with a hard backup and pocket a few grand of pure profit that I didn't have to spend on liscensing. You can argue Postgres, but I've never run into a case where I couldn't work around those features that haven't been implemented in MySQL yet.

    The one thing I can't stand is when someone suggests: "I can't afford Oracle, so lets' go with a MSSQL database." That's like, I can't afford a space shuttle, and a ferarri isn't good enough for me, so I'm going to buy this million dollar llama instead because 1000 marketing agents can't be wrong, right?"

    It has all the same feautres as Oracle, it's just that the features in Oracle WORK.

    Just my .0363160 Bulgarian Leva worth

  • Get serious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:12PM (#5526453)
    no mention of PostgreSQL or mSQL,

    Is this a joke ? Forget, for a moment, the conclusions we're supposed to draw from 1) the observation that MySQL may run a lot of websites (this is about as relevant as pointing out that Hyundais outsell Ferraris - doesn't mean that Hyundais are superior vehicles), and 2) a lot of commercial websites might run MySQL (also about as relevant as pointing out that companies buy more Ford Focuses for their fleets than Hummers - doesn't mean the Focus is a 'better' vehicle than the Hummer).

    mSQL is about as far away from providing the feature set of MySQL as MySQL is from providng the feature set of an Oracle or PostgreSQL - which is to say, worlds away. Sure, MAYBE mSQL is the tool for a particular job - but then we have to ask, are flat files a threat to the mSQLs and MySQLs - hell, the Oracles- of the world ? After all, flat files are free and we know they're in wide use in lots of companies.
  • by pspinler ( 257388 ) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:15PM (#5526464) Homepage
    that have received little comment so far:

    * Firebird [] (ne: Borland Interbase)
    * SAP-DB [] (ne: Adabas-D)

    Both are good, high quality, commercial or formally commercial products released under an open source license. (interbase public license and GPL respectively)

    Further, SAP-DB has excellent commerical support available from SAP, the company, at or better than the same level of responsiveness as, say, Oracle support.

    Both are fantastic, enterprise level full ACID RDBMS's with all the great management features a heavy duty shop could want:

    * online backups,
    * transaction logs,
    * restore to point in time
    * subselects, views, rules/triggers, procedures, etc.
    * great storage management

    Check 'em out.

    -- Pat
  • by pvera ( 250260 ) <> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:30PM (#5526536) Homepage Journal
    I am a web developer and in the last few years I have written products that use SQL Server 6.5, 7, 2000 and Oracle 7.x and 8.x. MySQL has always been present whenever we discussed data back ends and was always dismissed as "not good enough." Usually because it did not cost a gazillion.

    During the last 18 months or so I have run my personal sites with a MySQL back end. I have never had an outage or loss of data that can be traced back to the MySQL servers. I ran it first on Windows 2000, later on freeBSD4.5 and now on a freeBSD4.6 jail. It still works perfectly.

    Back when we were still arguing (two jobs ago) about using MySQL, the DBAs usually claimed that you could not trust MySQL because of the lack of stored procedures and the fact that it could not pass an ACID test. Since then I never bothered learning the DB system itself beyond the minimum needed for SELECT/INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE operations, I did not try to verify this on my own. Years later and I am convinced that these DBAs probably read that in a magazine, and that none of them had even seen MySQL running.

    After the dot-bomb nightmare nobody in his right mind should be proposing to their managers to spend obscene amounts of money in SQL Server and Oracle licenses just to do simple SELECT/INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE operations. Sure, stored procedures rock but it does not make any sense to spend that much money just for the 1% of your functionality that will be run by stored procedures!

    Most of the people I know that use SQL Server don't even know how to write one, and in the last 5 years I have only written two web applications that have more than 1% of their sql operations as stored procedures. And for Oracle it is even worse!
  • MySQL AB comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by martenmickos ( 467191 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @01:52AM (#5527120)

    Great discussions on this thread! We are reading them carefully to learn what we can do better.

    Let me just comment on the overall impact of having such articles appear on and

    The article is indeed the result of PR work done by MySQL AB, but the value of it will benefit the entire free software / open source community. We need to get many more business articles out there, so let's be happy about this one, and let's produce more of them!

    Although this very article mentions MySQL only, please have a look at other articles where we at MySQL AB consistently mention the other open source databases. Here are two such articles on prominent business-focused sites (one of which, incidentally, is powered by MySQL): A2 44_0_1_0_C

    Our ambition is not to be a threat to bigwigs per se, but to make superior database software available AND affordable to all. With your help we can do it.

    Marten Mickos

  • by Ragica ( 552891 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:13AM (#5527719) Homepage
    Having browsed this thread I notice there are certain common arguments frequently employed to defend mysql. But what kind of defense are they?
    1. Its good enough for 90% of the web applications out there. However. 90% of the web applications out there are moronic, programmed by people without clues. This is a defense?
    2. Similar to above: Most people have no need for the "advanced features" of ACID databases. However, most people actually don't realise what excellent use those tools frequently are, and with mysql they will never have a chance to learn them.
    3. People don't always chose software purely on technical merit. One poster actually (apparently defending MySQL) held up microsoft as an example for this. I think this previous "defense" shall by the only comment I will make on this point.
    4. Mysql is blazing fast. This has been debunked so many times, it is just tiresome to do so again. I'll merely rephrase another reply in this thread: sure, because it doesn't have to do half the things a real database does to ensure integrity, and functionality. Nearly any database server can be tuned for speed by disabling (or just not using) features, and proper index maintenance. Mysql on the other hand, can't be tuned for the features it is missing.
    5. Mysql is easier to use. In my experience as a database hosting provider, pretty much the only reason this seems to be true is because unfortunately the majority of users got their feet wet in mysql first, and their brains apparently became irrevocably corrupted from the experience; they no longer are able to recognise the proper way of doing things even when it is shown them.

      None of the above is new information. Just my personal summary. In short, (ie. in troll) the argument seems to be simply: "Yes, mysql is pathetic, but so are most of us." Great.

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