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A Better Database Engine

By Steve Jones,

This was a very interesting article title, especially in today's world where so many people are using social networking, Web 2.0 web sites. The title of the article is "Can a Better Database Boost MySpace revenues?" and it talks about how Fox Interactive Media is recommending Java and database technology from Sun Microsystems, which means MySQL to me.

Would MySQL do a better job? Not by itself, at least that's my opinion. The database by itself isn't going to make or break the system. It's the rest of the application.

On some particular schema (objects, indexes, code), will MySQL perform better than SQL Server on the same schema? Sure, if it's a schema that's optimized for MySQL. Just like a schema optimized for SQL Server will outperform Oracle, MySQL, etc. And vice versa.

My guess is Fox has some new ideas about how to implement this particular feature on the MySpace site, and they've contracted with a proven vendor, Greenplum in this case, that has a system written for MySQL. Not that this system couldn't be built to run just as well on SQL Server and IBM hardware, but that it's already built on another platform.

The article doesn’t mention SQL Server or MySQL, but it doesn't have to. For those people that might be making database decisions, the implication is there as MySpace is the premier SQL Server backed web site and Sun purchased MySQL recently.

I think the article is misleading, but it's good in that it points out how salesmanship can work. Those of you testing, evaluating, or recommending database platforms should be aware that articles like this one are out there and your executives might be reading them. Get the story and facts straight and be prepared to talk about the real issues, not debate the hype from some headline.

I don't know enough about MySQL to say whether it's a better database engine than SQL Server. There are things I like about it, like the modular storage engine architecture, and things I don't, like the lack of as wide a platform as SQL Server. However I respect it and think it can work in most places where SQL Server could work.

To me the choice is usually easy. Pick the platform you have the skills to work on.

Steve Jones


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