MySQL Conference 2009

I spent most of this week at the MySQL Conference. I was giving a talk on Python and MySQL, which came about as a favor to some folks in the marketing department at Sun. This was a fair exchange, because I’ve been curious about the MySQL community. MySQL is at the other end of the open source spectrum from the ASF, so I wanted to see for myself what it was like. The MySQL conference is the MySQL community’s equivalent of ApacheCon. There is a mix of talks, some aimed at users of MySQL, and others aimed at developers of MySQL or related products.

There is a sizeable ecosystem around MySQL. There are extension patches from Google and Percona, which were mentioned in many talks that I was in. There’s MariaDB, Monty’s community oriented fork of MySQL. There’s the Drizzle project, which looks really interesting. There’s lots going on, and I got the feeling that there’s lots of innovation happening in various parts of the ecosystem. It feels energetic and fun, and what I would expect of a big open source community, despite it being a long way from Apache or Python.

I attended all kinds of talks. I went to a number of talks about analyzing performance and monitoring, including 3 talks on DTrace. Sadly, these talks were sparsely attended, which is a symptom of some of the problems that Solaris/OpenSolaris has been having. What was interesting was that all of these talks were given by former MySQL employees, and all of them were genuinely enthusiastic about DTrace. The best of these talks was Domas Mituzas’ Deep-inspecting MySQL with DTrace, where he showed some very cool MySQL specific DTrace scripts. If DTrace got ported to Linux as a result of the Oracle/Sun acquisition, that would be a good outcome for the world.

I also went to several cloud computing talks, where the topics was how to run MySQL in the cloud. These were pretty interesting because it turns out that there is a bunch of stuff that you need to do and be aware of when running the current versions of MySQL in a cloud environment. I hope that the Drizzle folks are aware of some of these issues and are able to solve some of these problems so that running in the cloud us pretty simple.

Here are my 3 favorite talks:

  • Don MacAskill’s The SmugMug Tale – I’m a photo guy, but not a SmugMug customer. Don’s been tweeting his experiences using Amazon Web Services to build SmugMug, and he’s been blogging his experiences with ZFS, the Sun Storage 7000, and so forth. I’ve been following his stuff for a while, so this was mostly a chance to see an in person rendering of an on line personality.
  • One talk that I didn’t expect to enjoy was Mark Madden’s Using Open Source BI in the Real World. I’m not really a Business Intelligence guy per se, but the world of blogging and twittering and so forth starts to make you attuned to the usefulness of various kinds of analytics. Anyone building any kind of non-trivial web software need analytics capabilities, so having open source solutions for this is good. It probably also didn’t hurt that I talked to several BI vendors on the expo floor the night before. What I really enjoyed about the talk was the beginning sections on how to be an analyst, think about and project the future. I’m given to a bit of that now and then, so I found this part of the talk pretty interesting.
  • The best talk that I went to was Yoshinori Matsunobu’s Mastering the Art of Indexing. The speaker pretty much covered all the kinds of indexing in MySQL, which indexes work best in which conditions (both for selecting and inserting — there were some interesting surprises for insert), and even tested the differences between hard disks and solid state drives. Maybe I loved this talk because it brought back all the research that I did in query optimization back in graduate school. But that wouldn’t explain all the other people in the room, which was standing room only.

Based on what I saw this week, I’m not in any way worried about the future of MySQL.

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