Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is Drizzle good for MySQL?

Have you heard of Drizzle? It was announced at OSCON yesterday and is all over the blogosphere. From the Drizzle FAQ:

* So what are the differences between is and MySQL?

No modes, views, triggers, prepared statements, stored procedures, query cache, data conversion inserts, ACL. Fewer data types. Less engines, less code. Assume the primary engine is transactional.

Also from the FAQ is that, right now at least, there is no intention to make this run natively on windows and they make the point:

* "This is not a SQL compliant relational..."

Very true, and we do not aim to be that.

It is a fork of MySQL that takes it backward to pre-5.0 in features but hopefully greatly reduces the bugs and instabilities. I plan to look at it but I don't see much enterprise adoption. It was the enterprise users who wanted stored procedures, views and most of the other stuff that is being removed. I think it will be adopted mainly by read-only (or mostly) web sites that want to serve many pages. That's ok. There's a huge market for that. If I found a fit for a client, I would consider it.

They are very honest with the goals:

* What is the target?

Deliver a microkernel that we can use to build a database that meets the needs of a web/cloud infrastructure. To this end we are exploring http interfaces, sharding enhancements, etc... do not expect an Oracle, MySQL, Postgres, or DB2.

I was reading my usual stable of blogs this morning and ran across two blog entries that got me thinking. First is Ronald Bradford's blog, The new kid on the block - Drizzle. Ronald gives a great overview of what Drizzle is trying to achieve, the current state of MySQL and reasons why Drizzle is a good idea. This is well worth a read. I'm just this far from being convinced. ;-)

The second was On MySQL Forks and MySQL's non-open source documentation on Jeremy Cole's blog. To answer his question, I did not know that the MySQL documentation was not open source. That is a very interesting point and one that never even occurred to me. I wonder if Sun would consider opening it?

Anyway, both of those got me thinking about forking MySQL. If you look at the Postgres community (not comparing the databases, just the goals of the community) over the years, they have taken great pains to not fork the database. The contrib modules are there so that the database can add functionality without forking. The companies who have tried to make a go at monetizing Postgres have also taken great pains to not fork the database.

In fairness to Drizzle, it may have a sort of contrib module like functionality (bolding is mine):

* What is the goal?

A micro-kernel that we then extend to add what we need (all additions come through interfaces that can be compiled/loaded in as needed). The target for the project is web infrastructure backend and cloud components.

With Postgres, even companies like Yahoo and Skype who needed specific functionality have contributed that back to the community so that the code will eventually be reworked into the mainline (or as a contrib). There is a very anti-forking bias in the Postgres community and I think that has helped advance the database.

Ignoring any commercial interests, will the MySQL community become fragmented by forking? Because honestly, the community is the important part of any open source project. If Sun is putting its resources behind MySQL 5.1 and 6, and if they don't open the documentation, where will Drizzle go?

I'm just not convinced that Drizzle is a good thing or that it's needed. Then again, if they concentrate on making this a natively scalable database for the cloud, maybe it is time for a fork. Although, I'm not sure that goal is achievable starting with the MySQL codebase. What do you think?


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Arjen Lentz said...

People can only put energy into a limited number of things. Considering Drizzle is pretty much made up of MySQL community, it stands to reason that any time they spend on Drizzle will not be spent on MySQL.

With MySQL effectively not taking on board code contributions, it's also not surprising that people would work on a project that a) can possibly serve their needs more quickly and b) will take on board the code that helps it get there.

Speed is important, and in this case I mean speed of development. "Time to market" is still important when a product already is in the market. MySQL has not been doing that.

LewisC said...


Two very good points. I can understand working on a project where my work would be valued. And, time to market is important, when there is a commercial entity looking to make money. Is that the case with Drizzle? Will Sun be taking this and running with it?

I'm just not sure we need another minimal feature database. A new, inherently scalable architecture, yes. A stripped down mysql, not so much.

Thanks for the comment.