MySQL Review

Support for enterprise-grade features like clustering, Sharding, in an open-source solution


How has it helped my organization?

Due to the open source licensing model, it has allowed small businesses like ours to adopt enterprise-grade database systems without incurring significant licensing costs.

What is most valuable?

  • Open-source
  • Multi-platform
  • Lightweight
  • Simple to set up, configure and tune
  • Support for enterprise-grade features like clustering, master-slave replication, even Sharding (to some extent) which is an advanced feature

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful if there were a graphical user interface to administer, configure, and tune it.

If it had something similar to Microsoft’s DTS engine then it would be the best database system out there.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the scale at which my systems are operating, the software is stable. We are at most dealing with less than 10 million rows of data across all tables, and concurrent connections under 200 at our peak loads.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No scalability issues at the scale at which my systems are operating. One thing I did encounter with an earlier version of MySQL 5 – the mysql process will not automatically use available CPU cores on the server, even if it was a dual or quad core CPU. I was troubleshooting a scalability issue when I saw this, it maxed out just a single core and left the other three (in my quad core CPU server) idle. There was a specific condition / trigger that will make the mysql process span the other available cores (I can’t recall now but a quick googling likely will uncover this).

How is customer service and technical support?

We did not subscribe to professional support from MySQL AB or Oracle. However, the wealth of community support is outstanding. Most of the issues faced could be resolved by knowledge shared by the MySQL community.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I’ve used SQL Server and Oracle for database systems. SQL Server is an excellent solution, in particular the DTS (Data Transformation System) which is not available for MySQL. Switching to MySQL for two reasons: 1) licensing costs 2) the application supports MySQL primarily, and has poor support for SQL Server.

How was the initial setup?

Very easy to set up, relatively easy to configure, tune, and use the conf file, as long as you are comfortable mucking around in Linux conf text files and working from the command line (I am).

You could use the installer which would be the easiest way, but setting up by hand is not too difficult either – instructions can be found online and following them step by step usually works fine.

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

MySQL Enterprise Support is not cheap, though might still be cheaper than Oracle or SQL Server. They may not have local support depending on where you’re based, but there are many smaller agencies out there that will readily provide support. You’ll need to spend some time looking around.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I’d been using other database systems like Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle Database before trying out MySQL. There are forks of MySQL maintained outside of Oracle, like MariaDB and Aurora (by Amazon Web Services). I have not really tried them but I don’t expect very big differences; in fact, for most use cases you may not observe any difference. There would be the few unique features in MariaDB and Aurora that are not present in the original MySQL feature set (I know there are but don’t remember the specifics).

What other advice do I have?

As long as your application supports it well, and you are familiar with the scaling options and its limitations, you can’t go very wrong with MySQL, as it is a very mature product by now. If you are fairly competent with servers and databases you could start off without subscribing to Enterprise Support, and may be able to get by quite well. If things get more complicated, or scalability starts to become a problem, then you may consider paying for help.

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