United Nations votes for open source database

UN FAO selects open source MySQL as database standard

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has selected MySQL as its open source server-side database standard.


With more than 3,700 staff members, the FAO's mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.


Key activities include putting information within reach, sharing policy expertise and bringing knowledge to the field. Over 200 database systems are used to collect, analyse and disseminate knowledge and data that aid development of the member countries.


Until now, almost all systems have been based on proprietary solutions, but the FAO says it believes the inclusion of open source software could help it better accomplish mandates and objectives.


"One of the key requirements for our technical information systems is that they must be very easily available and accessible by the member countries as well as easy to set up and maintain," explains Kurt Vertucci, the FAO’s senior officer, IT governance.  "We cannot dictate to countries what their infrastructure should be. Therefore, in addition to requiring very flexible licensing, these systems need to be portable and based on open standards."


After evaluating alternatives, FAO selected MySQL as its open source database standard, particularly because of features such as procedures, triggers and views. Vertucci says, "MySQL proved to be easier to set up [than the alternatives], easier to manage and has become a widely deployed standard in the developing countries, helping governments to achieve significant costs savings, without sacrificing database speed and power."


To help the FAO IT team to migrate and implement their new open source database, the MySQL professional services organisation delivered a mentoring program including training, consulting and workshops to enable the agency to learn best practices and to initially configure the systems according to their specific needs.

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