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Sun: MySQL 5.1 Open-Source Database GA Near

Officials at Sun say the MySQL 5.1 open-source database will be generally available in the coming weeks. Sun had said MySQL 5.1 would be available earlier in 2008, but had to delay the release to allow developers to fix bugs.

Open-source database users can expect the final version of MySQL 5.1 to be ready for general availability in a few weeks, after Sun Microsystems makes sure any major bugs have been squashed.

"We're just drilling into a couple more areas, just to double-check. My expectation is that that will be GA in the next couple of weeks," said Zack Urlocker, vice president of products for Sun's Database Group.

The general availability date for MySQL 5.1 has slipped as developers have sought to iron out the wrinkles. In April at the MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., Sun officials said the open-source database would be ready within weeks of the show. However, the process of fixing bugs before declaring it ready has taken longer than expected, prompting some in the blogosphere to prod the MySQL community to get more involved.

"A few weeks ago [MySQL's original author] Monty Widenius asked MySQL developers to help the company decide whether MySQL 5.1 is ready for GA or not," said Matt Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group. "Clearly the company got its fingers burned with both the general release of 5.0 and the release candidate of 5.1 and is nervous about repeating its mistakes. The fact that MySQL felt the need to publicly ask the question would suggest that either it is not confident the bug reporting process has done its job or it is being overly cautious."

Urlocker said Sun is committed to ensuring that the product is truly ready to go before putting the general availability stamp on it and officially recommending it for production use.

"That's precisely [why] we ask people to just bang on it when it's in the RC [release candidate] stage," Urlocker said. "I actually think right now there are no known—what we call priority-one [or] priority-two—bugs that have been reported by customers that are unfixed."

MySQL 5.1 has been in production for roughly three years, and adds a number of enterprise-class features meant to improve performance, including row-based replication. The capability replicates the data changes, as opposed to the actual SQL statements, between a master server and its slave servers. To increase flexibility, the MySQL team has also added hybrid replication, which uses either statement-based or row-based replication depending on the individual SQL operations.

Other enhancements include support for five forms of data partitioning—list, key, range, hash and subpartitioning—which Urlocker said will help people dealing with very large data sets.

To Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna, the delays are evidence of "growing pains" as MySQL expands its presence in and support for high-performance enterprise environments.

"Actually, 5.1 has been an ambitious project to support several new enterprise-class features. … Considering that these are very complex features, it definitely requires considerable development efforts and testing, especially if they are to be support for large and complex environments," Yuhanna said.