Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflections on return to MySQL Community and Ecosystem

After a four year hiatus, my participation in last week’s Percona Live MySQL Users conference marked my official return to the MySQL Community and Ecosystem. As with earlier renditions this year’s “UC” was very well attended with a healthy mix of familiar faces and new blood, all coming together to discuss, present and explore the boundaries of the most popular and widely used open source database on the planet.  There were many good, informative keynote and technical sessions, BoFs and the exhibit hall was packed most of the operating hours with those interested in what the MySQL ecosystem is up to.  I also found it very refreshing that Oracle was among the most active in presenting useful technical content around their current and future MySQL open source product releases. All in all, this year’s UC was very well done and as a Percona employee my hope is that we continue to host the annual event for many years to come.

With all that said, I feel compelled to share some observations from the week and offer some ideas on how we (Percona + the MySQL Community) might improve on similar events going forward.  So, my observations, in no particular order:

The MySQL community is alive and well.   By a wide margin MYSQL remains the #1 open source database in use today due largely in part to how it is embraced, developed and evangelized by the MySQL Community and those who lead it.  For an example, simply follow how the engineering teams from Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn have chosen to build WebScaleSQL on MySQL 5.6 Community edition.  That decision speaks volumes to the vitality and relevance of not only the MySQL Community, but also to the code branch chosen for this work. A huge win for all involved.

The MySQL Ecosystem is mature and continues to innovate.  I spent the last year working in the NoSQL database space and it felt very much like my early days with MySQL; many problems to solve, but few production-ready solutions available for immediate help.  In contrast, walking through the UC expo hall this week I was encouraged to see many vendors that cover the gamut when it comes to solving problems around MySQL; high availability, backup/recovery, advanced search, replication and clustering deployment and management, storage, performance monitoring and tuning, consulting, training, tools, etc.  The cool thing is that most of the solutions also provide innovative support for MySQL as it is used in the Cloud or in conjunction with other emerging technologies such as OpenStack, NoSQL, and Hadoop.

Speaking of OpenStack, it is evolving in the true spirit of community driven open source development and those with ambitions of providing or using DaaS based on MySQL should bone up accordingly.  It is quickly becoming the defacto standard for Cloud deployments built on MySQL.

MySQL users have many choices.  One of the advantages of the open source development model is it encourages healthy competition in the development of a specific product.  In this case, MySQL users have their choice of Oracle’s MySQL, Percona Server, MariaDB, TokuDB and relatedCluster/HA options from each.  The competition among these and other branches of the product is to the advantage of the overall MySQL Community.

And lastly, Oracle continues its investment in MySQL.  Oracle has remained true to its word by continuing to invest in the development of upstream MySQL.  5.6 is the best release of the product to date and 5.7 is looking very strong.  Oracle’s presence and participation at the UC again this year is validation that MySQL matters to them and they see Percona and those behind WebScaleSQL as partners in the ongoing development of the Community facing product. It was great to see Tomas and the Oracle/MySQL engineering team so actively engaged with the MySQL Community and overall ecosystem at this year’s event.

Like the MySQL Community, I think it is important for the UC dynamic to continue to evolve to draw in fresh ideas, innovation and a realistic depiction of how MySQL is used within hybrid applications and architectures.  So to close, here are some non-exhaustive thoughts along those lines:

Align sessions into role specific tracks.  This may be as simple as creating Developer, DBA, SysAdmin and Business centric tracks that align with attendee demographics and areas of interest.  CFPs could then be channeled into this template so topics are balanced and scheduled by area of interest. Keynotes could also be scheduled that speak to each of the tracks, setting the tone for each.

Encourage Sessions that present MySQL hybrid use cases.  Most NoSQL solutions are being used as a complement to vs. a replacement of MySQL.  Developers, DBAs, SysAdmins alike need to learn how to extend their current MySQL applications to leverage these new platforms without building new systems from scratch.  

Add a C-level track that explains MySQL, the MySQL ecosystem and the business value of mature, open source software.  This could be in the form of a 1-2 day subset of the UC that includes sessions that cover high-level technical topics that tie the lower-level track sessions with topics like TCO, support, services, etc. This is now a common component of events hosted by the new NoSQL providers and would bridge an understanding gap between MySQL techies and the decision-makers who depend on them.  

As always, interested in other opinions, so please let me know your thoughts.

Great to be back in the MySQL fold.  Thanks for holding my place!