Shutting down the FUD

Percona Co-founder: the MySQL community is thriving, but evolving


There have been rumblings around the imminent demise of MySQL for a while now – but, according to Peter Zaitsev, it’s very much alive and well.


It’s time to clear the air. Since Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, industry pundits (and proponents of competing technologies) have repeatedly predicted the demise of MySQL. Would Oracle kill MySQL by underfunding it? Would it stop improving the Community Edition? Would users flee MySQL for other solutions?

When Oracle decided to stop supporting the annual MySQL User Conference, fears increased even more. In the years since, however, we’ve seen a thriving MySQL community as evidenced by Oracle’s continued releases of the Community Edition, the success and growth of Percona and other MySQL alternatives, and the very well-attended Percona Live MySQL Conferences in the U.S. and London.

And yet, the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) persists as the industry continues to evolve. Some still vilify Oracle, others fret about forking and control issues, innovation continues to push the boundaries for MySQL, and NoSQL solutions are creating new opportunities for hybrid environments. What’s the truth? The truth is that we have a vibrant MySQL community and plenty to look forward to in 2014 and beyond.

Let’s consider the state of MySQL today. The reality is that Oracle continues to invest in MySQL, and MySQL continues to improve under Oracle, which has released Development Milestone 3 of version 5.7.

The performance of MySQL has also continued to improve with each new release. In addition, far from abandoning the MySQL community, Oracle representatives are now regularly participating in Percona Live MySQL Conferences, and at the upcoming event in April, Oracle representatives are presenting a number of exciting sessions.

The other issues of concern, forking and the rise of NoSQL, are also not MySQL killers. For example, while there are valid forking concerns regarding MariaDB 10 (as noted in more detail below), its release is anticipated in the industry, and MariaDB 5.5 has made progress in being included in some significant Linux distributions.

And while many have called NoSQL a MySQL killer, there is simply no evidence that this is the case. NoSQL has its place, but MySQL will continue to thrive. In many NoSQL use cases, it appears alongside MySQL rather than as a replacement, solving a specific challenge for which it is more suitable.

It also seems that companies announce new technologies that make MySQL more attractive every month. For example, Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6 makes it easy to set up MySQL clusters for high availability, even for organizations, which were previously running a single MySQL server. TokuDB from Tokutek provides enhanced storage engine performance. And Tungsten from Continuent empowers easier multi-datacenter replication.

Likewise, monitoring solutions continue to expand the ability of MySQL users to maintain their systems. Solutions from companies like Severalnines and Webyog allow users to easily create monitoring systems that provide powerful insights into the status of their production systems.

Finally, interest in OpenStack continues to grow and MySQL is the default database in the stack. A number of major service vendors are pushing the OpenStack standards and are participating in its growing adoption.

MySQL’s Future

With the abundant evidence of MySQL’s current health, what does the future look like? We see innovation and adoption everywhere. In fact, according to Next-Generation Operational Databases: 2012-2016, a report from 451 Research, MySQL ecosystem revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 47 percent to reach $1.3 billion by 2016.

Significantly, the report suggests that the revenue generated by MySQL as a service (-aaS) providers will increase rapidly and reach 46.6 percent of the market by 2016, but revenue for MySQL distributors and support providers will also continue to grow.

Meanwhile, Oracle is continuing to roll out new and improved features in MySQL 5.7 (many of the significant enhancements coming in MySQL 5.7 will be discussed during the upcoming Percona Live MySQL Conference in April).

However, as the 451 Research report suggests, “the gravitational pull Oracle exerts on members of the MySQL ecosystem is diminishing.” This is very significant and evidence for the claim lies in the highly anticipated release of MariaDB 10, which Google and Red Hat have announced they will adopt.

Still, even the MariaDB development team has highlighted the forking issue, recognizing that those who maintain Linux distributions do not want a MySQL replacement that is not backward compatible. As a result, the coming year will be very interesting as the MariaDB development team tries to strike the right balance between new capabilities in the product and backward compatibility with MySQL—an effort that is currently viewed with skepticism.

Other developments helping to shape the future of MySQL include the growth of the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo. The event has grown each year—in attendance, sponsors, and quality of speakers—and will likely continue to serve as an important opportunity for the key players in the MySQL industry to meet with peers, assess trends, check out the competition, and form partnerships.

The Linux distributions will also continue to expand their suite of MySQL variants and related technologies. For example, we have had significant distros add Percona XtraBackup and Percona Toolkit this past year, and interest has been high in adding additional Percona open source products by some Linux distros.

We believe that OpenStack will continue to grow in popularity and MySQL technologies will adapt to provide more functionality for users. For example, we have seen specific interest in Percona XtraDB Cluster as a high availability MySQL clustering solution within the stack from some of the major organizations backing the standards.

Increased efficiency will also drive the adoption of new, related technologies. For example, usage of the now open source TokuDB storage engine will grow as users realize the benefits of the solution in specific use cases such as storage compression.

Additionally, new and existing monitoring solutions will continue to grow in importance to help in the effective management of MySQL deployments. One instance of this is our recently introduced new variations of Severalnines ClusterControl and Webyog MONyog for our Percona Support customers.

These variations are based on the original products but include our best practices to ensure optimal performance. We have also recently introduced the beta version of Percona Cloud Tools as a free, online service that allows users to monitor their queries and identify opportunities for improvement.

Despite the persistent gloom of some prognosticators and the wishful thinking of competing products, MySQL remains a vital technology that is continually being enhanced. Equally important, the MySQL community remains committed and enthusiastic, and organizations that rely on MySQL continue to see it as critical to their ability to cost-effectively scale their businesses. The truth about MySQL? The next few years will be very exciting.

About the author

Co-founder and CEO of Percona, Peter Zaitsev is arguably one of the world’s foremost experts in MySQL performance and scaling having advised some of the world’s largest MySQL users — including many Fortune 500 firms and household names — on MySQL best practices. Peter is the co-author of High Performance MySQL, now in its third edition. Image by Acid Pix
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