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MariaDB: the new MySQL? Interview with Michael Monty Widenius.

by Roberto V. Zicari on September 29, 2011

“I want to ensure that the MySQL code base (under the name of MariaDB) will survive as open source, in spite of what Oracle may do.”– Michael “Monty” Widenius.

Michael “Monty” Widenius is the main author of the original version of the open-source MySQL database and a founding member of the MySQL AB company. Since 2009, Monty is working on a branch of the MySQL code base, called MariaDB.
I wanted to know what`s new with MariaDB. You can read the interview with Monty below.


Q1. MariaDB is an open-source database server that offers drop-in replacement functionality for MySQL. Why did you decide to develop a new MySQL database?

Monty: Two reasons:
1) I want to ensure that the MySQL code base (under the name of MariaDB) will survive as open source, in spite of what Oracle may do. As Oracle is now moving away from Open Source to Open Core (see my blog) it was in hindsight the right thing to do!

2) I want to ensure that the MySQL developers have a good home where they can continue to develop MySQL in an open source manner. This is important as if the MySQL ecosystem would loose the original core developers there would be no way for the product to survive. This is also in hindsight proven to be important as Oracle has lost almost all of the original core developers, fortunately most of them has joined the MariaDB project.

Q2. What is new in MariaDB 5.3.1 beta?

Monty: 5.1 and 5.2 was about fixing some outstanding issues and getting in patches for MySQL that has been available in the community for a long time but never was accepted into the MySQL code base for political reasons.

5.3 is where we have put most of our development efforts, especially in the optimizer area and replication. Replication is now a magnitude faster than before (when running with many concurrent updates) and many queries involving sub queries or big joins are now 2x – 100x faster. All the changes are listed in the MariaDB knowledge base.

Q3. How is MariaDB currently being used? Could you give examples of applications that use MariaDB?

Monty: We see a lot of old MySQL users switching MariaDB. These are especially big sites with a lot of queries that needs even more performance. We have some case studies in the knowledgebase.

What we do expect with 5.3 is that also people that need a more flexible SQL will start using MariaDB thanks to the new ‘no-sql’ features we have added like handler socket and dynamic columns.
Dynamic columns allows you to have a different set of columns for every row in a table.

Q4. When dealing with terabytes to petabytes of data, how do you ensure scalability and performance?

Monty: A lot of the new features, like batched key access, hash joins, sub query caching etc are targeted to allow handling of larger data sets.

We have also started to continuously do benchmarks on data in the terabyte range to be able to improve MariaDB even more in the area. We hope to have some very interesting announcements in this area shortly.

Q5. How do you handle structured and unstructured data?

Monty: Yes. The dynamic columns feature is especially designed to do that. We have now one developer working on using the dynamic columns feature to implement a storage engine for HBASE.

Q6. Who else is using MariaDB and why?

Monty: MariaDB has several hound-red of thousands of downloads and is part of many Linux distributions, but as we don’t track users we don’t know who they are. (This was exactly the problem we had with MySQL in the early days). That is why we have started to collect success stories about MariaDB installations to spread the awareness of who is using it.
The problem is that big companies usually never want to tell what they are using which makes this a bit difficult 🙁

The main reasons people people are switching to MariaDB is:
1. Faster, more features and fewer bugs.
The fewer bugs comes from the fact that we have fixed a lot of bugs that MySQL has and is introducing in each release.
2. It’s a drop in replacement of MySQL, so it’s trivial to switch.
(All old connectors works unchanged and you don’t have to dump/reload your data).
3. Lot’s of new critical features that people have wanted for years:
– Microsecond support
– Virtual columns.
– Faster sub queries, big data queries & replication
– Segmented key cache (speeds up MyISAM tables a LOT)
– Progress reporting for alter table.
– SphinxSE search engine.
– FederatedX search engine (better and supported federated engine)
See for a full list here..
4. The upgrade process to a new release is easier than in MySQL; you don’t have to dump & restore your data to
upgrade to a new version.
5. It’s guaranteed to be open source now and forever (no commercial extensions from Monty Program Ab).
6. We actively work with the community and add patches and storage engines they create to the MariaDB code base.

Q7. What’s next in MariaDB?

Monty: We are just now working on a the last cleanups so that we can release MariaDB 5.5.
This will include everything in MariaDB 5.3, MySQL 5.5 and also most of the closed source features that is in MySQL 5.5 Enterprise.

In parallel we are working on 5.6. The plans for it can be found here.
The most important features in this are probably:
– True parallel replication (not only per database)
– Multi source slaves.
– A better MEMORY engine that can handle BLOB and VARCHAR gracefully (this is already in development).

We are also looking at introducing a new clustered storage engines that is optimized for the cloud.

What will be in 5.6 is still a bit up in the air; We are working with a lot of different companies and the community to define the new features. The final feature set will be decided upon in our next MariaDB developer meeting in Greece in November.

Q8. How can the open source community contribute to the project?

Monty: Anyone can contribute patches to MariaDB and if you are active and have proven that you are not going to break the code you can get commit access to the MariaDB tree.
The following link tells you how you can get involved.

Another way is of course to contract Monty Program Ab to implement features to MariaDB. This is a good options for those that have more money than time and wants to get something done quickly.

Q9. Cloud computing: Does it play a role for MariaDB? If yes, how?

Monty: Yes, cloud computing is very important for us. MySQL & MariaDB is already one of the most popular databases in the cloud; Rackspace, Amazon and Microsoft are all providing MySQL instances.
The popularity of MySQL in the cloud is mostly thanks to the fact that MySQL is quite easy to configure in different setups, from using very little memory to using all resources on the box. This combined with replication has made MySQL/MariaDB the database of choice in the cloud.

The one thing MariaDB is missing for being an even better choice for the cloud is a good engine that allows one to, on the switch of a key, add / drop nodes to dynamicly change how many cloud entities one is using. We hope to have a solution for this very soon.


Posts tagged ‘MySQL’.

Michael (Monty) Widenious, MariaDB
State of MariaDB, Dynamic Column in MariaDB
Describes MariaDB 5.1 a branch of MySQL 5.1. It also introduces the new features in versions 5.2(beta) and 5.3 (alpha). Copy of the presentation given at ICOODB Frankfurt 2010.
Presentation | Intermediate | English | DOWNLOAD (.PDF) | September 2010|

Databases Related Resources:
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