Oracle Previews MySQL 5.6

Friday Jul 29th 2011 by Sean Michael Kerner

Oracle commits to improving the open source database.

One of the biggest areas of concern that helped to delay Oracle's (NASDAQ: ORCL) acquisition of Sun last year was the open source MySQL database. As it turns out, Oracle has accelerated MySQL development, and this week previewed its next generation.

MySQL 5.6 is now available as a preview and provides an enhanced InnoDB storage engine as well as improved scalability and performance.

"Starting with MySQL 5.5, InnoDB is the default storage engine, core to MySQL," an Oracle spokesperson told InternetNews.com. "There is a single development track."

Oracle released MySQL 5.5 at the end of 2010. InnoDB had been acquired by Oracle prior to the Sun acquisition and with the MySQL 5.5 release it was returned as the default.

In MySQL 5.6, InnoDB has been improved with Full-Text Search that enables faster search on database tables. The Redo Log Files have also been enhanced with up to 2 TB of capacity, up from only 4 GB previously. According to Oracle, the larger log file size will enable better performance for long-running transactions.

Another key area of improvement in MySQL 5.6 comes from enhancements to Binlog.

"MySQL's popularity depends on InnoDB and replication and, at the core of replication, is the binlog," Oracle's spokesperson said. "The Binlog API enables developers to reduce the complexity of integration by standardizing their SQL data management operations on MySQL, while replicating data to other non-MySQL applications within their data management infrastructure."

One of the other binlog improvements in MySQL 5.6 is a group commit function that enabled updates to be committed in parallel to a group, which delivers better performance.

While MySQL is an open source project, Oracle's spokesperson noted that all the early access releases (binlog api, binlog group commit, etc.) are work done by Oracle's MySQL Engineering Team.

"All the features announced are open source, available in MySQL Community Edition under the GPL," the spokesperson said.

MySQL development had stalled under Sun's leadership and the MySQL 5.5 release itself was slow to hit general availability. That said, Oracle's spokesperson noted that MySQL 5.5 release is one of the best quality releases in the history of the project. In contrast, the MySQL 5.1 release, which debuted in 2008 under Sun's leadership, was mired in controversy.

"With MySQL 5.6, we intend to stay focused on quality, performance, scalability," Oracle's spokesperson said. "That is the key reason we are releasing features early, so we can get community testing and feedback."

Sun had also been planning a MySQL 6.0 prior to the Oracle acquisition. Under Oracle, MySQL 6.0 has gone a different route.

"Many of the features of the old MySQL 6 release are already included in MySQL 5.5 and in MySQL 5.6," the spokesperson said. "The MySQL roadmap is driven by our community and customers. We are focused on growing MySQL's position as the most popular open source database for Web applications."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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