UPDATED 19:55 EDT / APRIL 05 2014

MySQL’s strength is its community | #PerconaLive

PerconaLive DolphinsThis week’s #PerconaLive event in Santa Clara, CA brought together devotees of the MySQL infrastructure from across the nation and the globe. Tim Callaghan, who serves as the VP of Engineering with Tokutek, has a perspective and product line that is able to recognize the benefits and drawbacks of both MySQL and NoSQL. He stopped by SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE to talk with John Furrier about his take on the MySQL community, emerging memory and storage trends and how Tokutek has positioned themselves for continued relevance and success in the industry.

“I want to ask you,” Furrier said, “to share your perspective on why MySQL is still important and why PerconaLive is such a great event.” He continued, “And what are the core conversationsh happening here on the ground at the event.”

Watch the interview in its entirety here:

Callaghan responded, “For me personally, it’s the community.” He discussed how his attendance of Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in years past never provided the same sense of fraternity experienced at this event. “You walk around here,” he said, “there’s a lot of enthusiasm. There’s a lot of hiring going on. At Tokutek, we open sourced a year ago at this conference. With a year now gone by, I have lots of people coming up to me and telling me how they tried our software and what their experience was. They give us ideas for features.”

In another contrast to Oracle’s event, Callaghan shared how the previous evening he had hosted a “Birds of a Feather” session centered on extreme MySQL performance. “My expectation was to have people standing up as Facebook lookalikes and telling me how fast their systems were and have others in the room learn from them.” In actuality, the first question was from someone relatively new to the MySQL infrastructure. “The best part was that no one in the room was upset that this wasn’t about people thumping their chest about how fast their database was.”

Echoing Callaghan, Furrier commented, “This is more of a developer’s conference.” But what Furrier really wanted to know was if the emergent Cloud war could be problematic in the attraction of good developers for MySQL in the future. “Does it worry you at all in terms of all the spam that could come in and poison the well a bit around what the real developer community is? And second question, what is the hot thing for developers right now,” he asked.

Hot for developers

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“That’s interesting,” responded Callaghan, “given that Tokutek spans two technologies. We have a nice NoSQL solution in the Mongo market and a MySQL solution.” Callaghan credits Mongo with perhaps leading the charge in winning the hearts of the developer community by having produced a product that a developer can simply install and get moving on without a DBA. “There is need for operations and administration,” he points out. “But it’s different than having a formal release process. In Mongo, the developer can just change the schema on the fly and keep going.”

MySQL, on the other hand, benefits from having nurtured such a loyal and productive community. “What’s interesting in the MySQL world is there are a lot of devops people here from lots of different companies,” said Callaghan. “That speaks to the community around MySQL.” To Callaghan’s point, even though the individual companies may be in direct competition with one another, they have recognized that a rising tide lifts all boats which explains their willingness to collaborate in the open source communities.

Callaghan continued, “But we live in an interesting world where Facebook is making many changes and creating many open source projects that are critical to their success, yet they are open sourcing them and letting the world use them. I think their model is that the world will help make the product better.”

Flash : the game changer & challenger

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As the Big Data revolution continues to march forward, Furrier asked Callaghan to address Flash, considering both its strengths and limitations. “Why is this a game changer and why is it a challenge,” he asked.

“It’s actually interesting in multiple directions,” Callaghan began. “Flash is fantastically fast, but it’s costly. Not only is cost per megabyte significantly higher than spinning disks, but the durability is something that you have to be concerned with.” Purveyors of Flash technology have been heralding the falling cost of the technology but, according to Callaghan, they have had to sacrifice durability of the devices. “Something very good about Tokutek’s software is that not only do we do compression but we write quite a bit less data to disks.”

Callaghan credits Tokutek’s patented Fractal Tree Indexing, created by Tokutek’s founders about seven years ago, with positioning them well in a Flash-centric storage world. The goal of the Fractal Tree is to amortize operations several times before writing anything to disk. While originally intended for spinning disk, this quality is important for extending the life of Flash devices. “The Fractal Tree Index was created in a world of spinning disks. The goal back then wasn’t so much concerned with durability. It was about the cost of the IO. Now an IO has become free with Flash, but it doesn’t last forever.”

While Tokutek is committed to both the NoSQL and MySQL environments, they recognize the strength of the latter rests heavily in the community that develops and advocates for it.

photo credit: victoria white2010 via photopin cc

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