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March 24, 2011 2 Comments

By David A. Kelly and Heather Ashton, Upside Research

The widespread presence of open source databases in web and enterprise applications is not new. But recently, a few upgrades to some of the leaders in the space as well as a much-anticipated new entrant have cast new light on their emerging and important role in powering many critical cloud-based applications. From an enterprise perspective, we feel the key take away is that when it comes to databases and new cloud-based deployments, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. As organizations expand their Web and cloud deployments it may make sense to consider other types of databases, including some of the ones below.

Last week, 10Gen released the latest version of its high-performance, document-centric database, MongoDB v.1.8.0. The newest version includes journaling, which will help for faster recovery in the event of a crash and the need to restore the database. It also includes improved replication and sharding functions. According to 10Gen, more than 100,000 copies are downloaded monthly of MongoDB. The product itself is relatively young, with its entry into the market in 2009, but it has been fairly successful. MongoDB’s popularity is due in part to its different structure than traditional databases. Instead of table structures and schema, MongoDB stores material in serial format, potentially allowing users to retrieve material faster than in a standard relational database. This can be especially important in a cloud environment, where speed matters and the material being recovered is frequently document-centric.

Also last week, maintainers of Drizzle (a lightweight database for the cloud) released the first production-ready version of the database, Drizzle7. Drizzle has a noble lineage, being a fork of the popular MySQL database. It was created for the main purpose of could computing and web applications, stripped down to a microkernel architecture and rewritten in C++ for speed and performance. Drizzle7 will be packaged in Linux distributions, locking in its propagation in the open source web application community. It has no version to run on Windows, which will mean Drizzle will appeal to a very specific set of users.

For those developers that prefer the option of a Windows environment, there is still the father of Drizzle, Oracle’s MySQL. When Oracle acquired Sun, there was concern that the popular open-source database would be buried. However, Oracle has nicely found a way to carve out a position for MySQL among its database offerings. In fact, its latest version, MySQL 5.5, boasts expanded integration with Windows and future plans for even tighter integration with Windows systems. MySQL still is the most popular database on the Linux platform, because it is part of the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP/Python/Perl) stack, which is commonly used for deploying websites and web applications. And, Oracle is positioning MySQL for web applications and embedded uses, distinguishing it from Oracle’s enterprise- strength database.

Expect to see a faction of open source databases like MongoDB, Drizzle, and MySQL continue to increase their focus on the cloud, where many enterprises are finding fertile ground for web applications. In addition, the presence of enterprise software vendors like Oracle validates the enterprise use of open-source and cloud-based technology to drive web applications and speaks to the long-term potential for open source databases in both the enterprise and the cloud.

  1. Royston Vasey says:

    Enjoyed the article, but wonder about its conclusion that software businesses (in this case Oracle) help assure the future of open-source software. And a second major chilling effect is probably the current state of software patent laws, here in the US. The current Oracle lawsuit against Google (Android) is arguably one example of both problems.

  2. David Kelly says:

    Royston — You make some good points. There’s definitely some trade off when you’re talking about commercial software companies and open source, and you have a reasonable question about Oracle (full disclosure, I do do some writing for Oracle). On the other hand, I feel that there is a lot to be said for having enterprises like Oracle (or other commercial software companies) involved in open source and providing a different set of services and options for organizations that want a mixture of solutions.

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