MySQL Review

Offers a simple DBMS solution with a very low hardware footprint. Only one of the engines supports ACID transaction control.

What is our primary use case?

Primary DBMS solution for web apps developed on either ASP.NET MVC or Zend / PHP for customers.

The community version of MySQL only offers simple backup and restore tools, but it is OK for many web dev projects for customers that want a low budget solution.

How has it helped my organization?

We do software development for our customers on both Windows and Linux. Since these tools are available for both Windows and Linux, we can leverage the knowledge of these tools for development on both platforms.

What is most valuable?

We design web solutions for customers with PHP (Linux) and ASP.NET MVC (Windows). MySQL offers a simple, no frills, but effective DBMS solution with a very low hardware footprint. Since it has no licensing fees, it offers great TCO for our customers.

What needs improvement?

Only one of the engines, InnoDB, supports ACID transaction control. The best performance engine, MyISAM, has no transactional control support.

It would make a lot of sense to include one engine that offers both very good overall performance and transactional control support.

All versions of MySQL, including the Community Server version include in its design as a Pluggable Storage Engine Architecture.

This architecture allows for the support of multiple options of Storage Engines, so, a software architect can design a sofware solution with MySQL based on a specific Storage Engine that is capable to cater to a particular type of storage use case requirements, like for instance, web applications with heavy read workloads and moderate write workloads, or intranet desktop applications with heavy write workloads.

Depending on the version of Community Server installed is the list of available Storage Engines: All it takes is the execution of the command SHOW ENGINES to retrieve the list of installed Storage Engine plugins.

When you create any given table in MySQL, you have the option to select what Storage Engine (among the engines available) will be applied to said table. If this option is no explicitly mentioned at the end of the "CREATE TABLE" command, the current default storage engine will be assumed.

For web apps with intensive read workloads and moderate write workloads, the engine that offers a good overall performance is the MyISAM engine, but this does not support ACID transaction control, and it uses a table-level locking mechanism (thus, from a performance standpoint, this is not proper for apps with heavy write workloads).

The InnoDB engine uses a record-level locking mechanism, so, it is proper for apps with heavy write workloads. It also supports Isolation Levels, which is important for applications that have many clients doing read and write operations concurrently.

The other storage engines offer support for very specific use cases, like for instance, flat file tables (CSV engine) or memory-only tables (Memory engine).

Getting back to the InnoDB engine, it offers features that are similar to the database engine in SQL Server, and according to some of benchmarks that we have run, SQL Server Express provides overall better performance than MySQL Community Server with InnoDB tables.

My "Room for Improvement" comment is that it would be great if in the future Oracle were to provide with the Community Server edition a version of InnoDB with better overall performance, while still requiring a small hardware footprint.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As with any good DBMS, MySQL requires periodic DBA maintenance. If you leave a MySQL database with no supervision of a DBA for enough time, files become too fragmented and they may turn corrupt beyond rescue.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The version of the product with free licensing does not offer stellar scalability support. We only use these tools for solutions that do not require such a level of scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

The version of the product with free licensing only offers community forum support. Because it is a very popular product, there are many free resources on the internet to search for solutions to most issues.

This kind of "free support" is OK, because we do not use these tools for mission critical solutions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

For Windows development of non-critical solutions, we previously used SQL Server Express exclusively. However, now we use either SQL Server Express or MySQL, depending on the customer. We have not switched from SQL Server Express to MySQL.

How was the initial setup?

The admin tools offered by MySQL Workbench are very good. For an experienced DBA, it is rather easy to setup a (MySQL) server for development, testing, pre-production, or production environments.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was done with in-house team.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

With no licensing fees, the business opportunity is great for both the customer and an ISV like my company. This is the case, as long as you use these tools for non-critical solutions.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate other solutions, mainly PostGreSQL, which is also a very good product.

We run a benchmark comparison first, then we run a small lab with the development of a small solution with both toolsets (MySQL and PostGreSQL).

In this development comparison, we found that the winner is MySQL. MySQL toolset for development offers much more coverage for both PHP and C# development.

What other advice do I have?

Most small and medium enterprises require many non-critical solutions. They clearly they do not have large budgets for these kinds of solutions, so it makes a lot of sense to consider MySQL as a good option for this kind of development.

The advice is to make sure that it works for your company and for your customers.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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