Conversations at the MySQL Conference

Today, for me is day 1 of the MySQL Confernece & Expo 2009. It seems to be going pretty well – and its only 2.45pm.

If you follow Planet MySQL, or happen to just have random conversations with people, the main buzz for the day is “Oracle buying Sun”. But let me not bore you with that. I just want to log some of my interesting conversations.

Over lunch I had a good discussion with users of MySQL, and one potential user of MySQL (his company uses Oracle, MS SQL Server, Sybase, and are now looking at MySQL). We talked about quite a number of things:

  • The documentation (which I, and the rest of the MySQL users use) seems to not be complete for an Oracle person. Why? It seems we’re missing out on things like the models. We lack enough theory. People would like to “see” (visually) what the InnoDB buffer pool does, not just read about it. In fact, it also seems like we might need to be clearer with the use of commands. And for the first time, I have found out that if you’re coming from an Oracle background, you might find the comments at the end of the manual, to be kind of confusing — also, some believe the comments are irrelevant and misguide you. Wow! I mean, this is open source, we’d like the manual to also be kind of open source… ;)
  • There seems to be a misconception amongst potential users that MySQL is only great for the Web. It fails in everything enterprise related. I know, if you’re reading this, you’re thinking this is just insane – but think again – if you’re reading this, I’m preaching to the choir. MySQL is Enterprise ready, but I think the message needs to reach out to the greater community. Heck, if you’re showing up to the conference, kudos, we’ve reached you, but its just a drop in the ocean.
  • Backups. “Why is it that you have to pay for ibbackup? This stuff is supposed to be free.” Well, the open source advocates still need to reach out further. The argument that once you start paying for MySQL Enterprise, and once you start paying for hot backups, you start realising that the database is costing you more than you need. I brought up the point that even if you use Linux, you do pay for subscriptions — but the argument back was that you can at least figure out how to do it for free. True, but its similar in MySQL land — you’ve got mylvmbackup, you could setup a replication slave and use that for backups, there are third party tools like Zmanda’s backup one, and if you wait for MySQL 6, there will also be online backup. Anyway, this isn’t about backups – its about paying for open source software.
  • I know that a big network in Russia, with over 22 million users, use MySQL 4.1. The DBA goes forth and basically tells their developers not to use a lot of features, and they’ve managed to skirt around it, with no problem.
  • Libraries use MySQL.

For many, this is their first MySQL Conference. For some, they’ve been coming on-and-off since 2005.

Tutorial quality? If you follow Twitter, you’ll know that some people enjoy their tutorials, while some don’t. Most don’t want to be in a tutorial, in where the speaker talks about everything on the slide deck — because that’s something you can do yourself by sitting at home. People want a mix of war stories. I think this alone is pretty good advice for speakers. But always remember, you can’t always please everyone.

Cloudera’s tutorial in the afternoon was most amazing — you had to watch a bunch of videos, get a VM ready, and a lot more preparation. They went to, in quite some depth about the Facebook architecture (Amy Lin, from Facebook was surprised how much they knew — I suggested that, most of the information is mostly public anyway). This didn’t seem like a tutorial to attend if you were new to Hadoop, and if you’d not completed the prep, you might have been left out.

Sheeri and Patrick spent a lot of time in the shell, and inside MySQL. But I learned quite a bit about metadata.

I wish I took down more notes, but there’s some level of running around that I was required to do.

Follow @MySQLConf on Twitter. The Twitter serach for mysqlconf is also good for the “streaming river of information”.

Did I already mention people talking about Oracle buying Sun? Everyone is wondering about the future of MySQL and more. Its all just speculation people. Wait and see. That’s the most informed approach. I can respect that analysts have opinions, but it doesn’t mean anything. I like Marten’s candid response, though. Marten knows how to get a message across.

Power. Power is being rolled out in all rooms, there should be power plugs in every three rows. But that seemed to be an issue. The Internet mostly works, things are “fixed”, so you should be able to suck mail via IMAP, and connect elsewhere via SSH.

Oh, I met up with Chuck Hagenbuch and Leigh Heyman, who are giving the closing keynote from the Obama team. The Googler’s are a little busy, and will be around on Thursday, and the closing keynote titled “Database We Can Believe In: Stories from the Front Lines (and Server Rooms) of Barack Obama’s Online Presidential Campaign” is going to rock.

Whom else did I meet? What other interesting conversations did I have? I hope I remember to script them down. After all, conferences are made with conversations. And conversations are social networking 1.0. Have them.

/me is about to run for a conference call right about now, and its only mid-day. So many more great conversations await :-) Career fair, booze at the bar, what more can I ask for?
(ok, I can ask for everything to just run smoothly over the next few days. And I hope everyone has a ball of a time!)


  1. xuekun says:

    hi, colin

    I knew mysql is Enterprise ready. however even Marten Mickos said “MySQL works for Web-based applications. Oracle is for older, legacy applications. ” in So should preach more. :-)

  2. Justin Swanhart says:

    Also don’t forget xtrabackup for open source backup.