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MySQL unveils latest version of open-source database

MySQL has announced general availability of Version 4.1 of its MySQL open-source database, which the company is positioning as production-ready for large-scale enterprise usage.

The upgrade features advanced querying capabilities through subqueries, faster and more flexible client-server communication, and new installation and configuration tools. Security also is improved and support has been added for international character sets and geographic data.

The subqueries and derived tables feature allows users to more easily search complex data sets. A new GUI installer and configuration wizards for Linux and Windows make it easier to set up and optimise databases, according to MySQL.

"We're continuing to add a lot of the enterprise capabilities that people are looking for, like subqueries and prepared statements," said Zack Urlocker, vice-president of marketing at MySQL. "We continue to improve the performance and make it easier to use with every single release."

Analysts, however, said the company still needs to add support for stored procedures and triggers before the product will be considered enterprise-ready.

"It is not enterprise-ready until features such as [stored procedures and triggers] are there," said Donald Feinberg, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. 

Those capabilities, plus a views feature, are to be added in release 5.0 of MySQL, targeted for shipment early next year.  It had been initially set for release late in 2004.

"[Version] 5.0 is what needs to come out. Not sure why this came along now," Feinberg said.

"I think [4.1 is] an incremental step," added Noel Yuhanna, an analyst at Forrester Research. "It's definitely a requirement to have a new release coming out every 12 to 18 months."

Security and performance improvements in 4.1 are worthwhile, but the company still needs to add stored procedures and triggers, Yuhanna said.

Encrypted client-server communication, featured in release 4.1, is enabled using OpenSSL, to boost security against intrusion and unauthorised access.

Also included is a faster client-server protocol supporting prepared statements and providing optimised query execution and improved warning information.

Full text and Help features also are improved in Version 4.1, MySQL said. The Help function now offers expanded documentation.

For embedded applications, Version 4.1 has a better optimised MySQL server library with a smaller memory footprint that performs faster when embedded in third-party software.

MySQL 4.1 is available now for Linux, Windows, Solaris, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, HP-UX, IBM's AIX, and other operating systems.

The product is offered under a dual licensing model, in which it is available through either an open source or a commercial licence.

For open-source usage, in which source code is made available, the product is free. Commercial pricing, for using the database in commercially distributed applications, starts at $595 (£326) per server. Support charges cost extra, Urlocker said.

Paul Krill writes for Infoworld


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