Tuesday, 28 April 2009

On the Merits of Voting

Just before the MySQL User Conference, Dups implemented a small little feature for Planet MySQL: "voting". We wanted to see what a voting system might mean to you, our PlanetMySQL readers.

The question is now how to improve the voting mechanism to make it more useful. The goal is for everyone to see what you and your peers think are the best PlanetMySQL entries over a given week.

Here are some of the options:

1. Open up voting to everyone regardless of whether they are logged in or not. Currently you can only vote if you are logged in with a MySQL.com account. Let's face it, a login gives a barrier to entry even as much as it gives us the security of knowing we won't get spammed.

One option is to allow all to vote, within the constraints of spam control of some kind. Another option is to have voting for non-logged in users to count, but count less than those who login. This gives voters the incentive to login and magnify their voice, but allows anyone to have a vote if they choose not to login. An example would be to have a logged in vote worth 1 and a non-logged in vote worth 0.1

The problem, of course, is that we would be setting an artificial "quality" judgement on your vote.

2. We add voting links into the RSS Feed itself, so you can tell the world what you think of blog posts from within your RSS reader. We could also automate a posting of the Top voted entries on PlanetMySQL at the end of each week in case you decide not to come to the web site at all (though we hope you do come by once in a while).

3. We leave it as is!

Now it's your turn to tell us what you think! Remember the intent of all this is for good posts to not just disappear as the feeds scroll by with ever more content.

We've also been asked whether there is any conspiracy to throw posts up and down by us manipulating votes. Let me answer categorically: No. We do not manipulate the votes in any way. What you vote is what you see.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Future of MySQL

What is the future of MySQL? This is a question that interests many.

To be specific: Will there be significant performance improvements? Code contributions? Bug fixes? New features? Open Source licensed documentation? Will the users be happy with the Monthly Rapid Updates now released for the MySQL Community Server?

On another, more competitive level: Will there be successful forks? What will the MySQL AB founders do? What is Percona's next move?

Julian Cash, known for his visionary photography, extended his scope during a Wednesday session at the MySQL Conference. Hard work during his predictive session gave me insight. I now know the answers.

However, I'm afraid I cannot share the revelations on this blog. What I can do, though, is to point to Julian Cash's site "The Human Creativity Project", and to the visible results of his other sessions on Wednesday.

Thank you Julian!


Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Great Open Cloud Shootout: Videos and other links

Today's Great Open Cloud Shootout was great fun -- at least for me! I had the pleasure to tease these distinguished gentlemen with cloudy questions:

  • Lew Tucker, Cloud CTO, Sun Microsystems

  • Monty Taylor, MySQL Drizzle Geek, Sun Microsystems

  • Jeremy Zawodny, MySQL hacker, craigslist

  • Chander Kant, CEO, Zmanda

  • Thorsten von Eicken, CTO, RightScale

  • Prashant Malik, Cassandra Dude, Facebook

  • Mike Culver, Evangelist, Amazon Web Services

I tried to provoke the panelists with questions around some areas I had thought out:

  • So, what is a cloud anyway?

  • Who is the cloud for?

  • Why use the cloud?

  • Cloud adoption barriers

  • Are there cloud standards?

  • Cloud Business Opportunities

  • Cloud Competition

  • Databases & Clouds

UPDATE: Here is a list of web resources on the shootout:

Judging from the nods and agreements between the panelists, the term "shootout" may have been a tad more aggressive than necessary to describe the discussion. But that didn't seem to disturb twitterers. I'm very glad to have got positive Twitter comments such as

  • andygrove73: Excellent cloud shootout at the MySQL conference. Would have liked to hear discussion about sharding on the #cloud though.

  • imsplitbit: RT @LenzGr: Great #cloud discussion at #mysqlconf, @sheeri is next. I agree, that was the best shootout I have been to.

  • imsplitbit: If you are at #mysqlconf and are not at the Cloud Panel discussion you are missing out! Not to mention LAME! #cloud

  • LenzGr: "Cloud not suitable for money laundry" (Monty Tailor in the #cloud shootout at #mysqlconf)

  • sheeri: RT @LenzGr: Love the pictures in Kaj's slide deck of the #cloud panel discussion #mysqlconf 

I'm grateful to Steve Curry for coming up with the idea to this keynote. Thank you! 

I also wanto to extend a big Thank you to all our panelists, and to the audience -- I hope you had as fun as I did!

Here are some more of Zack Urlocker's pictures (the first picture on top, in the rain-protective hat, is by Duncan Davidson): 

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Karen's Commitments to the MySQL Community

A new start always provides an opportunity to reassess your way of doing things:

  • “Am I doing the right things with my life?”

  • “Which habits could I change -- in order to be a better neighbour?” 

Since Karen Tegan Padir took over the MySQL product from Mårten Mickos, we at Sun have taken a thorough look in the mirror.  The result of this introspection allows us to publish our conclusions and new community commitments this week in conjunction with the MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara. 

For those who don't yet know Karen, let me state a few facts: 

  • Karen is VP of Sun's newly-founded MySQL & Software Infrastructure group

  • She describes herself as a geek and a straight-shooter, and I can attest to both 

  • She was deeply involved in Sun's decision to acquire MySQL, as well as the subsequent integration work throughout 2008 

Karen Tegan PadirIn my previous blog, "MySQL Culture and Business Philosophy Goes Mainstream at Sun", I stressed that the key point to remember is that Sun is completely committed to building a big open source-based business, and very much supportive of the various communities that Sun is engaged in. That may sound a bit abstract, so I have worked with my new boss, Karen, to spell out for the MySQL community what it actually means in practice: 

First: We shall now start releasing MySQL Community Server binaries as frequently as we release the MySQL Enterprise Server. We want everyone – community and customers -- to get the best bits first from us. This is why future Monthly Rapid Updates of MySQL 5.1 will remain available for the community. Moreover, future MRUs of MySQL 5.0 will also become available for the community. 

Second: We shall focus even more on our traditional core product values of stability, Performance and Ease of Use. Like you, we hate bugs, we hate slow, we hate waiting for fixes, and we hate awkward usability -- even more than we love new functionality. The MySQL 5.4 performance release, which is considerably faster than MySQL 5.0 or 5.1 in most use cases, is a case in point.

Third: We shall allocate additional resources to the health and well-being of the MySQL Community. We focus both on users and developers. We shall now devote a greater portion of our internal MySQL Engineering Team resources to reviewing and eventually merging architecturally-compatible features written by external contributors, even if those features weren't on our own roadmap.

Finally, fourth: We shall do more to improve our internal software engineering practices. We will brush our teeth every morning and evening, exercise several times a week, and eat (mostly) healthy food. Some of us may at times still take a vodka shot, but if so, then only to be social and to provide an excuse for singing badly, but not while writing code. 

In the spirit of open-ness, please give us ideas on how we can implement these changes. Let the MySQL community team know what you think. For those at the show this week, stop Karen in the halls and introduce yourself. Above all, enjoy!

What hasn't changed with MySQL

Jetlagged from transatlantic travel, I woke up in the middle of the Californian night thinking about what has changed since I arrived at the MySQL Conference in Santa Clara on Sunday evening. I was pondering all the questions MySQL users and Sun colleagues were asking at the event, and what the user base was thinking out loud on Twitter yesterday.

What has changed is obviously that Sun Microsystems and Oracle announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun.

What further changes we will see as a result of that is a different story. Evidently, I don't sit in with a crystal ball predicting what will happen next. Nor do I have insight into Oracle's plans for MySQL, once the deal is closed. Nor am I even in a position to comment upon the acquisition, so I won't do it.

However, what I do know and what I can say is what has not changed with MySQL:

  1. There still is a huge base of MySQL users out there. They have economic interests that are independent of whoever owns MySQL. The users in the MySQL community come in all flavors, ranging from casual users to those who intimately know the inner workings of MySQL and have contributed to the code base.

  2. There still is a huge talent pool of MySQL experts in Sun Microsystems, in Support, in Consulting, in Training, in Engineering, in other parts of Sun. They have a strong loyalty towards the MySQL users they have served over many years.

  3. MySQL is still licensed under the GPL. The GPL license used to form a safety net for the users not certain about whether MySQL AB would follow the spirit of Open Source. It continued to be so with Sun Microsystems. And the Open Source license continues to provide a safety net for its user base, regardless of the owner of MySQL.

  4. MySQL has founders, one in particular, who still haven't fallen off the face of the planet. Moreover, their passion for MySQL and its users continues.

  5. Sun Microsystems still is a separate legal entity, practising what's known as "business as usual". This is familiar to MySQLers from the time between Sun's acquisition of MySQL was announced mid-January 2008 to the closing at the end of February 2008. During the period between announcement and closing, we continue to behave as separate entities, even competing with each other.

  6. Part of Business as Usual is a number of product announcements at the MySQL Conference this week. I'm looking forward to these!

While I cannot and will not personally speculate about what happens next, nor about Oracle's intentions with MySQL, I think our users are looking to what the names most inimately associated with MySQL are saying -- even if they no longer work for Sun Microsystems:

  • First, MÃ¥rten Mickos, MySQL AB's former CEO and long-time SVP at Sun, has several positive comments in his Forbes interview "Why Oracle Won't Kill MySQL".

  • Second, Michael "Monty" Widenius, MySQL AB's co-founder, also finds many positive things to say in his blog statement "To be (free) or not to be (free)".

My humble suggestions: Keep using MySQL! Follow the announcements from the MySQL Conference this week! Keep helping each other within the MySQL community!


Monday, 13 April 2009

Andy Bechtolsheim to Keynote MySQL Conference on Thursday

The last open keynote slot in the MySQL Conference, Thursday 10:00am, is now filled with the keynoter we had in mind all the time: Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.

Andy's bio is one of the longest and most impressive of MySQL Conference keynoters ever:

  • Sun co-founder, employee number one

  • invented the "Stanford University Network workstation" that eventually became the Sun-1 Workstation

  • was instrumental in launching other successful Sun products, including the SparcStation 1

  • now works with Sun's Systems Group to help drive next generation X64 and storage servers product architecture as well as HPC opportunities

  • left Sun in 1994 and rejoined 2005 through Sun acquiring his company Kealia

  • was one of the first investors in Google

What will Andy talk about? "The Solid State Storage Revolution" is the title. For more details, come to the conference!

But before that, I'd encourage you to take a closer look at his bio

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Great Open Cloud Shootout

The last couple of years, I have had the pleasure of moderating panels at the MySQL Conference. Last year, it was about scaling MySQL, and the year before that, it was the Clash of the DB Egos.

For this year, the original plan was for a MySQL Roadmap Shootout. Many of these questions Karen Tegan Padir should address in her opening keynote, and Robin Schumacher and Rob Young will dig deeper in "The Future of MySQL".

Hence, we decided to aim higher: We're going for the clouds. This year's new topic is "The Great Open Cloud Shootout".

We're starting from the simple question: What really is a Cloud? We go on to ask other questions: How do databases fit in the cloud? What are the technical benefits of and limitations to the cloud? What happened to SaaS -- is it dead? And we conclude by passing on the questions the audience twitters.

Our list of panelist celebrities includes Lew Tucker (Sun's Cloud CTO), Monty Taylor (full-time MySQL Drizzle hacker), Jeremy Zawodny (craigslist) and Chander Kant (Zmanda), and we might add another industry luminary or two to this list.