Looking at MySQL from an IDS perspective: The MySQL Editions

Different editions of MySQL serve different purposes. MySQL is currently offered in two editions:

  • MySQL Community Edition
  • This edition is distributed under the GPL. It could be downloaded and used without charge for test, development and production environments. However support is only available thru the MySQL community.

  • MySQL Enterprise Edition
  • This edition is also distributed under the GPL (including source code) but is only available for customers that subscribe to a SUN MySQL support contract. Beside the support entitlement additional software like the MySQL Enterprise Monitor (comparable to the IDS Open Admin Tool) is included.

You could think of the Enterprise Edition as the commerical version of MySQL. SUN has spend about 1 billion USD to take over MySQL AB - the company that developed MySQL - in 2008. So the MySQL Enterprise Edition is SUN's approach to make money out of this investment.

BTW, 1 billion USD is exactly the same amount of money that IBM had spend for the takeover of Informix in 2001. Looking at the consecutive double digit growth rate of IDS during the last 12 quarters and considering the sad fact that IBM does almost spend no money on marketing and advertising IDS, I guess that the ROI for IDS must be already fantastic for IBM. I doubt that SUN will be able to achieve the same cost-benefit-ratio for MySQL that IBM achieved for IDS. However there is no doubt that SUN is serious about MySQL and is investing marketing dollars to create product awareness and further expand MySQL's installation base. This brings real value to MySQL customers, ISV's and partners. Something that I've been expecting from IBM concerning IDS for years now (:-

Back to topic. The MySQL Enterprise Edition subscription is available in different price classes but only the Gold and Platinium tiers include 24x7 support as well as consultative support that monitors the system on a proactive base. The latter reminds me on the SAP EarlyWatch service. At the platinum level there is also the option for a SUN TAM (Technical Account Manager) who serves as a single point of contact inside SUN and performs case monitoring, weekly status calls, onsite visits and more. This reminds me on IBM Premium Support (Informix Regency Support). So at least the old argument, that there is no professional support available for MySQL production installations, isn't valid anymore.

But the increasing commercialization of MySQL also has it's down side. The father of MySQL - Michael (Monty) Widenius - denounced in a blog entry the early release of MySQL 5.1 that contained several serious known bugs. In the meantime Michael Widenius as well as Marten Mickos - former CEO of MySQL AB - left SUN.
Another unpleasant consequence of the increasing commercialization hits the users of the no-cost MySQL Community Edition. The MySQL Enterprise Edition includes monthly updates as well as quarterly service packs (fixpacks) whereas the MySQL Community Edition will not be updated as often as the Enterprise Edition (more on this here).

With Drizzle there is a MySQL clone on the way that is targeted as an (MySQL) alternative to the the open source community. Drizzle source code has been forked from the upcoming MySQL 6.0 version. The approach of Drizzle is to be more open and modular than MySQL. However features like stored procedures, triggers and views will be stripped out which disqualifies it as an enterprise database from my point of view.

So you see there is a lot of things happening around MySQL. Some of them are seen critically by the open source community but seem to be unavoidable due to the increasing commercialization of MySQL driven by SUN. During the next blog entries within the scope of this series I will take a deeper look at MySQL areas like installation, storage engines, backup/restore, replication and so forth. A comparision to IDS will be made where appropriate.