Re: Off Topic: open source databases

From: Tim X <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 08:20:11 +1000
Message-ID: <>

Mladen Gogala <> writes:

> I guess this is a legitimate topic now that MySQL is essentially an
> Oracle product, too. My question, however, is not devoted to MySQL or any
> other specific OSS database. I am just interested in what OSS databases
> are mostly used in data centers, in addition to Oracle and why?
> Specifically about MySQL, did the fact that Oracle Corp. now owns it,
> lessen its appeal or even increase it? I must confess that I expected to
> see a massive exodus from MySQL which did not materialize. I confess that
> my understanding of the world may not be entirely correct and I will even
> allow the possibility that the Earth is not flat, but this I do not
> understand.

I don't think Oracle's onership of MySQL (or Sun's before that) has really changed that much because they really appeal to two different markets/requirements.

Many web hosting companies provide MySQL. Very few provide Oracle. I think this is mainly because a lot of web applications really only use databases in a very limited way - essentially a repository for key-value pairs. MySQL is pretty good for this type of use, while Oracle is overkill.

My experience has been that most of the apps I've worked with that use Oracle are apps where the database is the main part of the application. The non-Oracle parts of the app tend to be just interfaces.

The MySQL systems I've worked with, the app is usually some other 'thing' like Java, perl, ruby or PHP and the database is really just a simple data store.

I think the main appeal of MySQL is that it can easily be administered by a competant sys admin or developer. There is not a lot you can tune/tweak and the feature set is quite limited. Oracle on the other hand is a much more complex beast, with a lot that can be tuned/tweaked and a much richer set of features. I have never met a good developer or sys admin who is also an up-to-date, experienced and competant Oracle admin.

Postgres does appear to be gaining some ground, though I suspect a bit of this is more discussion than actual usage i.e. some are a little worried regarding what Oracle will do with MySQL, so for risk mitigation, they are considering postgres for new apps. At the same time, they are alittle worried about postgres as its a little less proven in the enterprise. From my limited experience, I find postgres to be somewhere between Oracle and MySQL. I am a little negative regarding MySQL due to issues I've had with it in the past, particularly with respect to its storage reliability and limited SQL compliance, such as not supporting subqueries (my MySQL knowledge is probably out of date - I believe its underlying storage engine is now much improved and its SQL has been extended). Postgres is also relatively easy to administer and easily within the skill set of a competant sys admin/developer. Postgres has had a reputation as being slower than either Oracle or MySQL and unlike Oracle, you don't have many options to tweak performance. It has been fine in systems I've used it for, but none of them are what I would have categorised as being under a heavy load. However, I've always preferred postgrs over mysql because it has always felt more like a real database to me where mysql always felt like a cut down somewhat crippled system.

I believe there is also plans out there to fork MySQL and have an OSS version that is not controlled by Oracle. The original author of MySQL was pretty vocal regarding his oposition to Oracle, which in my opinion was pretty pathetic - he sold it for a large sum of cash to Sun, which I think forfits his rights to get huffy about what someone does with it who has paid to own it.

Some of the recent Oracle support and licensing stories I've heard recently does make me wonder if postgres might not become more popular, but I think this is separate from anything related to MySQL.


tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au
Received on Thu May 27 2010 - 17:20:11 CDT

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