Over the course of the last two years, Oracle has been hard at work building and improving MySQL 5.6. Today at long last, that hard work has come to fruition with the general availability of the open source MySQL 5.6 database.
The first MySQL 5.6 preview debuted in July of 2011, while the last official main MySQL release was version 5.5 which was released at the end of 2010.
A lot has changed in the database market in the two years since the MySQL 5.5 release. For one, the rise in the popularity of NoSQL databases has escalated in recent years. The NoSQL trend is not one that Oracle is ignoring.
"SQL is a very flexible language that allows you to do a lot of things that are not possible through a direct NoSQL type approach," Tomas Ulin, vice president of MySQL Engineering at Oracle told InternetNews. "So we've tried to join the best of both worlds with the full power of SQL to do complex queries and at the same time we're introducing a NoSQL access type API."
Ulin added that the NoSQL API is to the same data set, so a database administrator can preserve all the things that are expected for a regular database. The NoSQL API in MySQL 5.6 provides up to a 9x improvement in speed for certain types of queries. The MySQL NoSQL API is based on the industry standard memcached API.
The NoSQL layer isn't the only part of MySQL 5.6 that will be faster for users that MySQL 5.5. According to Oracle, MySQL 5.6 provides up to 230 Percent Improvement in Transactional and Read Only Throughput.
Ulin explained that the big performance gain has been achieved via code rewrite of the InnoDB engine that reduced overhead.
That code refactoring also enables new scale for MySQL. MySQL 5.6 is now able to scale all the way to 48 core servers.
Online Schema Changes
Another big new capability set in MySQL 5.6 deals with enhanced availability features.
Online schema changes enable database administrators to easily add and drop columns. The online schema changes capability is technically referred to as the online Data Definition Language (DDL) set of operations. With DDL table modification can be made while applications are connected.
"It means a lot to users to be able to change their database schema," Ulin said. "We have a schema-less system here so we don't have to take our tables or data offline while doing a huge alter table operation."
For existing MySQL users moving from MySQL 5.5 to the new 5.6 will not be a particularly painful chore for most databases.
"In general, it should just be a matter of stopping the server, running the upgrade script and then starting the database over again," Ulin said.
Another way to update a high-availabilitiy replicated MySQL database cluster is to update the slave node first, then failover the master to the slave, then update the previous master.
Going a step further Oracle also has a technology called Workbench that has both open source and commercial versions. Workbench has a migration wizard that will also enable migration from different databases including SQL Server over to the MySQL 5.6 release.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.