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December 13, 2005

Is MySQL Simple or Complex (or both)?

At last night's Boston MySQL meetup someone raised a point that I've been thinking about off and on for the last day.

The attendee suggested that for years MySQL was the database that didn't have all the frills. It was simple to use, easy to maintain, and performed better than a more complex database. MySQL AB has been working on changing that perception for some time. Misconceptions about lack of transactions and referential integrity have been a battle since back in the 3.23.x days. Now with the release of 5, the message seems to be even stronger. It's no longer the database that it used to be, it's grown up, all of the features that it's been criticized for not having are now there in some form, and a lot more greatness is in the pipe.

So the question is . . . What happens to the people who really just wanted a simple, no frills, easy to use database. Based on the message, MySQL is no longer the database for them. Right?

answer was something to the extent of walking both sides of the street. Maybe that's true. Maybe MySQL can have all of this wonderful functionality that makes them viable in the enterprise arena, and at the same time stick to the 15-minute install rule and keep the clutter to a minimum for folks who love MyISAM, simple SQL from the application, and never want to go farther into metadata than show tables. That's why I started to use MySQL in the first place so many years ago, you didn't have to know much about a database to get it up and running and into use, and the word on the street was that for ease of use and maintenance, MySQL was the way to go.

I'm no marketing expert, but based on how much it takes to change a perception I'd guess that the work to move people to understand "we're mature and full-featured" means there's no room for the "we're really simple and easy to use/manage."

So what does happen to the person who wants a simple database and sees MySQL as more of an enterprise database? How does MySQL hang onto those folks? Or is it intentional to move up the ladder a bit and leave them behind?

Posted by mike at December 13, 2005 3:56 PM