MySQL works to broaden storage options for its database

MySQL is continuing its efforts to increase the number of storage engines available to users of its open source database through an internal project and a deal to make the software available on a seemingly unlikely hardware platform: IBM's venerable System i server line.

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MySQL is continuing its efforts to increase the number of storage engines available to users of its open source database through an internal project and a deal to make the software available on a seemingly unlikely hardware platform: IBM's venerable System i server line.

That agreement, which was announced at MySQL's annual user conference in California, this week, will enable System i users to tap into the growing number of applications written for the MySQL software. And the System i version of IBM's DB2 database, which is integrated with the midrange line's operating system as a standard feature, will be certified as a storage engine for MySQL.

Meanwhile, MySQL officials provided more details about the development of a homegrown storage engine code-named Falcon that is expected to be ready for release next year. Senior software architect Jim Starkey said MySQL plans to make Falcon act like an in-memory database as much as possible in order to minimise disk reads and writes.

MySQL's database is built on a modular architecture that lets users tie it to different storage engines. MySQL announced plans to develop Falcon and to make it easier for other vendors to create data stores for the database a year ago, after Oracle acquired the developers of two MySQL storage engines, including InnoDB, the most widely used one.

Randy Dufault, president of Common, a System i user group, said the addition of support for MySQL "certainly fulfils a need" for companies that run the IBM midrange servers.

The PHP open-source scripting language became available on the System i line over the past year "and just caught fire", said Dufault, who works as a principal engineer at Minneapolis-based systems integrator MBS Technologies. Adding MySQL was the next logical step, he said, because much of the PHP-based software now in use was written to work with that database.

Since DB2 will still be used to store data, Dufault does not expect MySQL to be hard for most System i users to install. The software "is an extension of what we have now -- just another option", he noted.

Joanna Power, a software development engineer at Cozi Group, said the Seattle-based developer of an online calendar application runs MySQL on its back-end transaction and data warehouse systems. Cozi uses InnoDB to store data, but Power was intrigued by what she heard about Falcon last week.

"Disks aren't getting any faster," Power said. By its nature, Falcon will be "more complicated" than InnoDB is, she acknowledged. But Power added that she trusts Starkey's development team "to do it right".

Falcon will be the most significant new feature in MySQL 6.0, the next major release of the open-source database, according to MySQL chief executive officer Marten Mickos. He said that Falcon's developers reached a milestone two weeks ago when they finished eliminating top-priority bugs from an alpha version of the storage engine.

IBM will also sell service and support subscriptions for the MySQL Enterprise database via its reseller network and System i sales team. MySQL officials hope that will help the database vendor gain more paying customers. During his keynote speech at last week's conference, Mickos said MySQL has just one paying user for every thousand that do not pay.

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