What is it?
MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) from Swedish supplier MySQL AB.
Widely deployed for web and embedded applications, MySQL has a 44% share of the global RDBMS market, according to analyst firm Evans Data Corp (EDC).
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Despite its high take-up, founder of MySQL AB, Michael "Monty" Widenius, said, "Other databases have many features that we don't. We are still a complement to them, although we, of course, do compete for individual projects where other databases are overkill, or we have a more compelling licence."
Although it is a cornerstone of the Lamp (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/Python/PHP) development stack, MySQL AB said 40% of downloads were for Windows.
Where did it originate?
According to Widenius, MySQL began with a limited feature set to solve problems in datawarehousing and the web. It was launched in 1995. The Windows version followed in 1998. The current MySQL 5.x release is available in two flavours: MySQL Community Server and MySQL Enterprise Server.
What's it for?
MySQL AB said, "MySQL delivers less complicated solutions that complement existing corporate databases such as Oracle, IBM DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server."
MySQL AB said 60% of its business comes from embedded systems. There are application programming interfaces available to MySQL-enable applications in many programming languages, including C, C++, C#, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and Tcl.
MySQL AB is a Microsoft Visual Studio Industry Partner, and it is developing a downloadable plug-in for Visual Studio 2005. There is an ODBC interface, which enables Active Server Page applications to access the database.
MySQL AB also contributes to the Eclipse Data Tools Platform for Java, and works with Zend on the Eclipse PHP integrated development environment project.
What makes it special?
EDC's research among users found that proprietary database servers were "almost twice as likely" as MySQL servers to have suffered a security breach.
According to MySQL AB, using MySQL can reduce database licensing costs by 90%, and administration, engineering and support costs by up to 50%. There is also a 60% reduction in downtime.
How difficult is it to master?
MySQL makes a virtue of simplicity and human readability but, as with any relational database, knowledge of SQL is needed for serious use.
Where is it used?
There are more than 10 million installations worldwide, according to MySQL AB. User organisations include the US Department of Homeland Security, Nasa, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Ticketmaster, Lastminute.com, Nokia, Lloyds TSB, Médecins Sans Frontières, Associated Press, BBC News and BT. Nokia plans to use MySQL Cluster technology in its next subscriber register.
What systems does it run on?
AIX, HP-UX, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Sun OS, Windows and many others.
What's coming up?
Future releases of MySQL promise partitioning, online back-up, failsafe replication and XML functionality.
MySQL AB provides training in London at the same sort of rates you pay for any leading database: £1,500 for a five-day DBA course, and £2,995 for an intensive boot camp.
Alternatively, you can take the hard and lonely but cheap route, using the many free online tutorials and books such as Tahaghoghi and Williams' Learning MySQL.
Rates of pay
MySQL and PHP is a much-demanded combination. Salaries for MySQL database administrators start at £30,000, and those who also have Oracle skills can expect a lot more.
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