Time to Consider MySQL

by Jay F. Davis, www.acsoft.biz

After more than twelve years as an Enterprise Database Architect and Database Developer who has worked extensively with Oracle, Microsoft FoxPro and Microsoft Access, it may come as a surprise that my new favorite database is a free database, MySQL.

Yes, free. MySQL is a complete and powerful database management system created and maintained by a Swedish company, MySQL AB, and released under the GNU General Public License, which means it is completely free. Only if you sell MySQL as part of a commercial application are you required to pay for it.

For the vast majority of database applications, there is no point in spending the money on high-end database management systems like Oracle, IBM's DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server. With MyODBC for MySQL (also free), you can even build queries and entire applications using third-party tools such as Microsoft Access, with MySQL as your back-end database.

In data warehousing, there is frequently little need for the high-priced features that a database server such as Oracle provides. What do you get for the extra $20,000 you pay for an Oracle license? Very little.

Things Oracle has that MySQL do not are:

  • Stored procedures
  • Triggers

I can live without these in most data warehousing applications. As to the lack of stored procedures, there are easy work-arounds, such as the creation of a stored procedure table. (By the way: Stored procedures are planned for MySQL 4.1).

So if MySQL is so great, why haven't the logical guinea pigs such as government and non-profit organizations jumped on the bandwagon?

I spent seven months recently consulting for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), building data warehousing infrastructure. Marta is standardized on Oracle. The logic for selecting Oracle escapes me, except perhaps that the decision was made exactly eight years ago (remember the Olympics) before open-source alternatives such as MySQL become sensible.

Unfortunately, like most organizations today, open-source software isn't even on the radar at MARTA, and that's a shame.

As to my own personal experience with MySQL, I've created at least six successful MySQL-based web sites and am now working on two others. MySQL is fast and robust. And it's free. I also like the fact that I feel like I'm contributing to a movement rather than someone else's quarterly profits. But that's the topic for another day.

Above article Last updated: Fri, 29 Mar 2013 18:06:49 -0400