What is MySQL?

First released in May 23, 1995, MySQL is an open source database software. It is part of a large and growing family of open source software including Linux, Apache, and programming languages PHP and Perl. However, unlike many open source products where the copyright is owned by the individual authors or distributors, MySQL is owned and sponsored by a single for-profit firm, MySQL AB, which holds the copyright to most of the codebase. They develop and maintain the system, sell support, service contracts, and proprietary-licensed copies of MySQL.

MySQL is a relationship database, which is a collection of items or tables organized into predefined categories or described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the database tables. This format is enormously popular with more than 100 million copies of the software downloaded over the life of MySQL. The popularity stems from the fact that the databases are easy to create and access. Additionally, they are easy to extend, a new data category can be added without requiring that all existing applications be modified.

When creating a relational database, you can not only extend the data, you can define the domain of possible values in a data column and any additional constraints that you want to apply to the value of your data. This makes your information significantly more valuable and user friendly.

Uses of MySQL

There are many uses of MySQL for a business and you can find many significant case studies at http://www.MySQL.com/why-MySQL/case-studies/. Among them are many stories about how information generated from MySQL has saved IT teams thousands of man hours and thousands of dollars.

Here’s an example of how you can use it for your business. Consider a typical order entry database. It might include the following columns for customer information: name, address, and phone number. . Another table might describe an order and have these columns: product, customer, date, and sales price. This table and the relevant information could be used to show a report on all customers that bought products on a specific date. A financial services manager in the same company could, from the same tables, obtain a report on accounts that needed to be paid.

Craigslist uses MySQL to power more than 50 forums, among many other things, and Yahoo Finance uses it to aggregate headlines for its website.

Benefits of MySQL

Ease of use. A basic knowledge of SQL and database manipulation is required however MySQL is logical and easy to use. This means you don't have to spend as much time and money either training existing staff, or hiring developers.

Security. There are not a lot of databases that can compare to the security that MySQL offers. It includes solid data security layers that protect your sensitive information. Rights can be set to allow some or all privileges to either individuals or groups. Passwords are encrypted. The access to your database can be controlled by a remote machine that can completely control what a user can view. The system can be locked down even more through the operating system.

Capacity and memory. MySQL can handle almost any amount of data from only a few rows to as much as 50 million rows or more. The default file size limit is about 4 GB. It manages memory very well, which means it functions efficiently and speedily without crashing or dumping your information. Additionally, MySQL server has been thoroughly tested to prevent memory leaks.

Unbeatable flexibility. MySQL runs on many operating systems, including Novell NetWare, Windows, Linux, and UNIX

It supports several development interfaces including JDBC, ODBC, and scripting languages including PHP and Perl. This enables you to create database solutions that run on all major operating systems, including Linux, UNIX, and Windows.

More than one person can access business information at a time. This means that a large group of people can access the information at once but there can also be several connections at one time.

Multiple storage engines, or types of table, allow you to choose which one is most effective.

Commit grouping, gathering multiple transactions from multiple connections together to increase the number of commits per second.

Technical support. One of the drawbacks to many open source products is the fact that the support is sometimes nonexistent or slow to respond at best. The products are free or close to free so it’s a trade off. However, MySQL Enterprise offers support itself, including 24/7 30-minute response time and the support team has direct access to the software developers.

Licensing. We’ve already discussed the fact that open source products are extremely cost efficient! MySQL AB makes MySQL Server available as free software, but they also offer the MySQL Enterprise subscription offering for business users and dual-license it under traditional proprietary licensing arrangements for cases where the intended use is incompatible with the General Public License agreement.

Drawbacks of MySQL

Early versions of MySQL lacked many standard relational database management system (RDBMS) features, usually with the goal of trading guaranteed accuracy for speed. Many (but not yet all) such criticisms have been remedied in later versions of the software, including transactions and relational integrity constraints.

Some say that MySQL's feature list leaves something to be desired, but its fans swear that a scaled-down feature set means you only have to deploy, configure and maintain what you need

There are also a few common errors such as out of memory or packet too large they generally relate to the configuration of the server and are uncommon and the errors are fairly easy to remedy.

Bottom Line:

The uses of MySQL are seemingly endless and for a business the information gathered is priceless. Combined with PHP, it can be used to create dynamic web pages. If you’re using any type of web 2.0 technology like forums, online ordering, subscription forms etc…must utilize a database of some sort to gather and analyze the information. When it comes to database technology, there really isn’t anything that beats MySQL for stability, price, and ease of use.

Author: Jeremy Gislason is a leading expert on membership sites, marketing and online business.