Oracle's MySQL 5.5 Release Aimed at the Web

Last month's general availability of Oracle's MySQL 5.5 is a significant release. Not only is it the first major version update of the popular open-source RDBMS since the 5.1 release in 2008, it's further evidence that Oracle is continuing to invest in MySQL and position it primarily for the Web and embedded applications.

MySQL 5.5 emphasizes features that improve the performance and scalability of Web applications across multiple operating environments -- it supports Windows, Linux, Oracle Solaris and Mac OS X -- and it bumps up performance on multi-CPU and multi-core hardware, the company said.

Among this release's manageability improvements are better index and table partitioning, SIGNAL/RESIGNAL support (an exception handling feature for stored procedures) and enhanced diagnostics, including a new PERFORMANCE_SCHEMA.

Oracle is also touting a new semi-synchronous replication capability designed to failover speed and reliability. This feature was originally committed as a patch for InnoDB, the company says, but it has been generalized for any storage engine.

With this release, InnoDB becomes the default storage engine for the MySQL Database. InnoDB delivers ACID transactions, referential integrity and crash recovery to the RDBMS.

Oracle is releasing both an open-source and commercial version of MySQL 5.5. The Community Edition of this release is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), and is available as a free download. The GNU General Public License (GPL), the most commonly used open-source license, employs the "copyleft" principle, which requires derivative works of GPL -- licensed programs to be licensed under the GPL. The Linux operating system is a GPL-licensed product.

Oracle's chief software architect, Edward Screven, showed off the beta of version 5.5 at last April's MySQL Conference and Expo, at which he promised attendees that his company would increase its investment in the DB. "We are going to continue to develop, promote, and support MySQL," he said, at the time, adding, "It's worth it to Oracle to invest in MySQL, and we're making it better, not at some abstract point in the future, but today."

But in a statement issued with the MySQL 5.5 release, Screven revealed where Oracle seems to be guiding MySQL.

"With MySQL 5.5," he said, in part, "end users and ISVs have a high performance, reliable, scalable and cost-effective alternative to Microsoft SQL Server for building and deploying their business critical Web and embedded applications."

Under Sun's stewardship, MySQL had forked into several projects, including Drizzle, a fork of MySQL 6.0, and MariaDB, a fork of the database that uses the Maria transactional storage engine. MySQL creator Michael "Monty" Widenius is one of the creators of MariaDB, has argued that forking is a sign of a robust community.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].