Friday, 27 February 2009

Kilimanjaro: The Promise of the Summit

So, there it was: The mandatory picture that every successful Kilimanjaro climber wants to brag with. And I am no better (or worse) than any of my predecessors. Of course, I want to show that I've conquered well over 13 % of the world's Seven Summits.

What did I see from the summit? A new release of MySQL? To be honest, my mind was completely off business. I was contemplating the most basic human needs. I wasn't feeling explicitly tired nor cold (except for my hands! I had taken off the gloves to take pictures). But I was completely out of breath, as the air is very thin at 5895 m above sea level. 

Now, I'm back home, tending to an inbox of over 400 emails personally addressed to me (and an unknown amount received through mailing lists). 

Luckily, I couldn't access those emails from the hotel in Tanzania where we stayed after the climb, so instead, I have been able to write plenty of Kilimanjaro related blogs. Each blog exists in one language only. First, the English blogs:

In German, I have so far only one blog

In Swedish, I wrote a whopping six blog entries:

I may or may not decide to translate (or rewrite) one or more of the non-English blog entries. Feel free to suggest which one would interest you!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Offline climbing the easiest of the Seven Summits

If you send me an email during the rest of February, you are highly unlikely to get an answer. However, I promise not to spam you with an "Out of office" auto reply. I dislike receiving those messages, as they seemingly have little correlation with when the person actually will reply to the email.

My excuse for not responding is that I won't be around my laptop and that connectivity is bad in rural Tanzania anyway. I will make an attempt at conquering Kilimanjaro, one of the Seven Summits, and to twitter while doing it -- to the extent there is sufficient SMS coverage, blood sugar and my fingers aren't numb.

I also hope to take some pics, which will illustrate a blog hopefully titled "Over 14% of the Seven Summits conquered", rather than "Taking the Milk Train from Africa".

Huh, Milk Train? Explanation: If you're dishonourably released from the Reserve Officer School in Finland, you're said to take the "dairy train" home (I took course 174 in 1984 and luckily returned with a non-dairy train). And while I'm not too worried about whether I've trained sufficiently, I am worried about how I'll take the height (5895 m!), and how my knees take the long hikes.

BTW, there are MySQLers who have made the Kilimanjaro. Olivier Beutels (in Mktg in Finland) and Duleepa "Dups" Wijayawardhana (in, drumrolls, the Community Team in Canada) are the ones I know of. Quoting selected passages from Dups's Kili blog from Summit Day:
And then off we went into the moonlit night. It is cold, brutally cold. Colder even than Edmonton in the dead of winter. 

After passing 5000m I start having breathing problems. I am not getting enough oxygen into my system. It is now painfully slow for all of us, three steps, three breaths. 

The horizon is getting lighter and the glacier wall is to our left. I have never seen the horizon that wide, that immense. It is a scene I will never forget.

Slowly I make it to the summit with the others. This is the moment I had waited for.

If Uhuru Peak was the summit of my emotion, the path down was the deepest well of despair. My blood sugar is extremely low, my water is frozen and I am feeling the effects of AMS more severely. At one point Victor is holding me and I black out and come back. Even more disturbing I've developed a fever. My temper is short and I immediately pass out on my return to Barafu Huts.

If you're interested in the schedule, take a look at my blog entry "Attempting the Kilimanjaro".

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

FOSDEM '09: A visual and verbal report

"Welcome to FOSDEM!" Well, FOSDEM ended on Sunday, but I'd like to provide you with a short recap of my Q&A and Roadmap presentation. Warning: I may go into more visual detail than verbal. This is because reports from the community, OlinData and Philippe Back as well as twitterings by Ulf Wendel already post most of what I said. It's because my presentation (1.5 MB) is posted on MySQL Forge. And it's because those present are waiting for the following level of detail of my answers, and I am not sure I'm able to provide much of that prior to our users conference 20-23 April 2009 in California.

So the further detail I provide may be limited to the 8mm pictures taken. They're taken by Ulf Wendel, who wasn't hard to convince to borrow my camera for a while -- and I'm glad I did. They're edited in a closed-source program called Photoshop, which I am happy to say uses MySQL (Adobe was a speaker at an internal Dev Mtg of ours a couple of years ago).

Photoshop note: My editing is partly simple cropping and partly Image / Adjustments / Shadow/Highlight... which is a CS feature I discovered only a few weeks ago, and will always use to enhance pictures which mix too dark areas with too light ones.

But first to the Sun/MySQL related substance. I provided the FOSDEM audience with the opportunity to give us some candid feedback on how we're doing. My specific question was "What is MySQL/Sun not so good at?".

The overall message, based on both qualitative feedback (audience comments) and quantitative (about 10 raise-your-hand-if questions), was clear:

  • Shorten the MySQL release cycle! That's pain-point #1! And 6 months is what's expected. Even 12 months is too long.

  • Half-baked features is pain-point #2!

  • Sun is doing alright on MySQL Stability, Performance and Ease of Use, overall, although improvement is of course possible (related to half-baked features)

  • For the core issues, MySQL is perceived as really easy-to-use

This is what Ulf Wendel twittered:

  • Kaj Arnö doing Q&A at FOSDEM. He has wonderful personal introduction slides. He asks for what MySQL is bad at

  • Roland [Bouman, former Sun/MySQL employee] complains about Plugins, others mention inmature features, Giuseppe [Maxia] reports about internal Five One Feature Maturity Team (FOFMT)

  • Kaj promises to forward all comments to Marten's successor. Lenz [Grimmer, reports to Giuseppe] is doing the scribe. Someone suggests dedicated Enterprise Marketing

  • Finally, someone is asking about multi-core improvements and DW optimization.

  • Kaj asking: Release cycle long 5.0, 5.1 given - now, what shall we do?

  • Suggestion: continue on the plugin road, support storage plugins both from technical and business perspective. More and faster releases?

  • Hands up. Q: Improve Contributions? Many. Federated? Very few. GIS? Much. Monitoring *inside* the Server? Many. Is Performance OK? Many.

  • More hands up. Q: Stable? Many (but you hear *hmm*, *ooohs*, *nnnn*)

  • End of the session. Kaj states that his goal is to have more frequent releases of MySQL while remaining fast and stable

Lenz indeed took more detailed notes, and I have compiled them for Karen Tegan Padir and others in our internal discussions. However, I won't go into detail until we have something more detailed to say.

In the meantime, I'm sticking to the neutral topic of distorted 8mm pictures.

Preso soon starting

Corner 1

More of same corner


Another corner

"What are we not so good at?"

"How many of you ... ?"



Roland getting ready

Distorted Kaj

The male toilet has a sign "env | grep fluid && rm -rf /dev/willy". Females don't need that detailed instructions. Theirs just said "Ladies". 


Saturday, 7 February 2009

FOSDEM Sunday 13:15-14:15: Q&A on recent developments at Sun, MySQL Roadmap

Given the changes announced this week, I have updated my original plans for my presentation on Sunday. I was going to talk about Social networking, but am now changing it to a very interactive Q&A session.

I expect people are asking themselves

  • What has changed?

  • What will happen now?

  • What are the consequences for the MySQL roadmap?

  • Are there other consequences for the MySQL community?

and I will attempt at answering these questions interactively during FOSDEM.

Towards the end of next week, after internal coordination, I plan to share some further thinking on the "what will happen now" front with my blog readers.

What also I plan to do during tomorrow's FOSDEM session is to get plenty of feedback on internal thoughts about what the community expects from us. My aim is to ask the right questions. My aim is to listen. My aim is to be able to use the FOSDEM feedback in our own planning at Sun. My aim is not yet to give answers to what Sun will do to accommodate your feedback, not even in the blog towards end of next week. At least partial answers can be expected at the MySQL Conference & Expo 20-23 April 2009 in California, though.

Summary: Travel to Brussels, come to FOSDEM, follow the signs for the "AW Building", and go to the MySQL room AW1.126 in time before the start 13:15 tomorrow Sunday 8.2.2009. And tell us what you want Sun to do with MySQL!

Friday, 6 February 2009

MySQL Culture and Business Philosophy Goes Mainstream at Sun

MySQL is undergoing some organisational changes as part of Sun. MÃ¥rten Mickos (MySQL AB's CEO 2001-2008 and SVP at Sun 2008-) is moving on in his life, outside Sun. This is independent of Michael "Monty" Widenius' recent departure.

I've worked for MÃ¥rten ever since joining MySQL in 2001, in various capacities (VP Training, VP Consulting, VP Services, VP Engineering, CIO, and since 2005 VP Community Relations). I will obviously miss working with him. At the same time, I can understand and respect his decision to move on to something else, and wish him all the best, whatever his upcoming pursuits will be.

I owe MÃ¥rten much of what I've achieved in business during this century. I've known him since 1981, and counted him as a close friend ever since. Even if the era of working for the same company has come to an end, I look forward to spending some non-business-oriented time with him.

While parting ways can be very painful, I am certain that MySQL's culture and business philosophy will live on in Sun, thanks largely to MÃ¥rten's contribution. In fact, you could say MySQL now becomes mainstream at Sun. Former MySQLers continue in key positions, in some cases with a mandate to generalise and apply MySQL related learnings on other Open Source products. In fact, the newly formed organisation that MySQL now is part of includes GlassFish, Open SSO and Open ESB, thus making us part of the industry's by far largest open source based group. It is a natural evolution in becoming a regular product at Sun -- as opposed to being treated separate and different as we have for the past year. That time has been important for us to be "grafted" into Sun, but now it is time to move forward.

As anytime when the person at the top changes, other changes will certainly follow. The key point to remember here is that MySQL, the product, remains alive and well. Sun is completely committed to building a big open source based business and very much supportive of the various communities it is engaged in. In another blog, I will expand upon what this means for the future.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

MySQL Conference & Expo Adds Percona Events

Sun and O'Reilly have invited Percona to host their already-planned "Percona Performance Conference" in parallel to the MySQL Conference & Expo and the MySQL Camp, at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I am very glad to report that Percona accepted our invitation and will join under the C&E umbrella, making an even richer experience for all pilgrims seeking enlightenment in Santa Clara next April.

The "Percona Performance Conference" is a new two-day event, a sort of mini-conference where Percona experts and guests will speak on high-performance LAMP topics.

It's also my pleasure to note three new presentations added to the MySQL Conference and Expo (C&E) agenda:

  • Make your life easier with Maatkit, Baron Schwartz

  • InnoDB Performance and Usability Patches, Vadim Tkachenko

  • Innodb database recovery techniques, Peter Zaitsev

Ideally I would have been able to share these news a bit earlier, but the birth process of this outcome was a bit long. My apologies to anyone who has suffered needlessly during the labour. However, good things sometimes take time. I am certain that the Percona Performance Conference will further increase the attractivity of the MySQL Conference & Expo week as the focal point of all things MySQL.

So a warm welcome to Percona! For their mini-conference agenda and more details, visit

Monday, 2 February 2009

MySQL Webinar on Partitioning -- by Use Case Competition Winner

Do you remember Guy Adams? He was one of the winners of the "5.1 Use Case Competition", ending up on position #2. Guess what: He has a webinar coming up tomorrow, by the title Deploying MySQL in a High Performance Satellite Network Management Environment by Parallel.
Guy works with Parallel Ltd. in Milton Keynes in the UK. You may also want to read up on Guy’s DevZone article. This is what you can expect of the webinar:
Join us for this informative technical webinar with Guy Adams, CTO at Parallel, whose flagship product SatManage is the worldwide leader in visualization and automation software that integrates NOC applications for satellite and hybrid networks. In this seminar Guy will talk about their migration from Oracle to MySQL, and the performance boost they gained from it. He will also talk about their application caching layer which provides a different but complementary philosophy to memcached, aiming to overcome of the issues with memcached in a data warehousing type application with CGI performance.

Timing: Tuesday, 3 February 2009, 10:00 am PST, 1:00 pm EST, 18:00 GMT.

The presentation will be approximately 45 minutes long followed by Q&A.


FOSDEM: See you in Brussels on Sat-Sun 7-8.2.2009

Like a number of other Sun people, whether MySQLers or not, I will travel to Brussels next weekend, for FOSDEM '09, an acronym which stands for the Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting.  

If you think you're late in registering, or if you don't have a budget, don't worry. Entrance is free, and registration isn't necessary. "Just come to the campus and enjoy the conference", the FOSDEM site stresses.

As for MySQL, we have a developers room on Sunday as follows:

Sun  09:00-10:00Practicing DBA's Guide to the PBXT Storage EngineVladimir Kolesnikov 
Sun  10:00-11:00Monitoring MySQLKris Buytaert 
Sun  11:00-11:45MySQL ClusterGeert Vanderkelen 
Sun  11:45-12:45MySQL 5.1 PluginsRoland Bouman 
Sun  13:15-14:15MySQL, powering and using Social NetworksKaj Arnö 
Sun  14:15-15:00Percona MySQL patches and the XtraDB storage engineEwen Fortune 
Sun  15:00-16:00Boost performance with MySQL 5.1 partitionsGiuseppe Maxia 
Sun  16:00-17:00Database ShardingJurriaan Persyn

I'm looking forward to taking a user perspective on social networks in my presentation at 13:15.

Do also take a look at our MySQL Forge Wiki page on FOSDEM 2009. We use it to broadcast any last minute information.

I hope to meet you in Brussels!