Friday Jun 06, 2008

Family of MySQL Cluster bloggers

While this blog is co-authored by the whole MySQL Telecom team, many members in or around the team also write their personal blogs, which you will find very useful. So please follow me on a tour on the absolute top MySQL Cluster blogs in the world:

Johan Andersson is the MySQL Cluster Principal Consultant, and has been with MySQL Cluster since the Ericsson days. He travels around the world to our most demanding customers and shares his guru advice. Rumor has it that recently on a training gig the students made him sign their MySQL t-shirts, can you get closer to living like a rock star than this? Occasionally he also shares some great tips and status info on his blog. Like right now you can find a set of handy scripts to manage all of your MySQL Cluster from one command line, definitively recommended to try!

Jonas Oreland is the Architect of MySQL Cluster. Now, us mere mortals may not always understand everything he is writing about in his blog, but if you want to know what is happening in the MySQL Cluster codebase right now, this is the place to go. And this is really cutting edge, the stuff he writes about in his last post may not appear in a GA release until next year.

Speaking of architects, it is natural to next introduce Mikael Ronström, Father of MySQL Cluster. Yes, Mikael is the one who came up with the whole architecture of MySQL Cluster, we have him to thank for 100,000 writes/sec and linear scalability. (Thank you!) Mikael actually isn't on the Cluster team anymore, he has for some time already been working on the general MySQL Server with things like replication and performance improvements. For newest benchmark of MySQL Server and MySQL Cluster, go to Mikael's blog.

Having dealt with the old and honourable Ericsson alumni, the next blog I want you to follow is Jon Stephen's. Jon is a technical writer, meaning he writes the MySQL Cluster manual. He is very diligent, constantly pestering the developers to divulge some information on how the Cluster work, to the benefit of all of us Cluster lovers. In short, if you want to know how Cluster works, ask Jon, he will know.

Like a cousin to Jon (in Cluster trivia, at least :-) is Ramon Graham, Product Manager for MySQL Cluster. A relatively new blog, but it appeared right in time to answer the worrying question, where did MySQL Cluster disappear? In general, if you are ever wondering where MySQL Cluster is going... talk to Ramon.

MySQL Cluster may have been born in Sweden, but there is a strong Australian angle to it... So let me finish by introducing our 2 Australian Cluster heroes. (I have a theory why these 2 hyperactive guys can get so much done every day, it is because Australia is in such an early timezone, they simply have more hours in a day as we others do!)

First up Stewart Smith, developer in the Cluster team and beloved lecturer about MySQL Cluster. Apart from Jonas' blog, this is another blog to follow if you want to follow how the development of MySQL Cluster. But Stewart writes actively about many things, in fact he is the president of organising the next linux.conf.au - one of the most popular Linux developer conferences in the world.

And we started with a consultant, we will end with a consultant: The MySQL-HA blog is where Monty Taylor is writing together with Alexander Rubin about Cluster, High Availability and performance. Monty is also one of those consultants traveling around the world from the Amazon basin in Brasil to various European capitals. He recently expressed that he has not yet ever been to China, so if you are in China and considering to hire a MySQL Cluster consultant, be sure to contact our Sales department! Monty is also the man behind the NDB connectors... hmmm, NDB bindings project which provides python/php/perl/ruby etc... bindings to the native NDB api of MySQL Cluster. If you want to qualify as a MySQL Cluster geek, get familiar with one of the NDB bindings! (Of course, the native C++ NDB API is also an option.)

I believe those are the blogs of the Cluster team & friends I know about. But if there are more, let me know and we'll add more blogs to the end of this post. By the way, the Cluster team is getting an infusion of old-Sun database cluster experts, maybe there are some blogs there we should know about? Let me know!

Update: Another Swede from the Cluster team, Magnus Svensson had unnoticedly joined the Cluster team just while I was writing this article. Today (June 24th) he has a great tip for those of you who want to have your first touch at the MySQL Cluster code: How to insert a simple printf statement for debugging purposes.

PS: I personally also have a blog, where I will never ever write about anything MySQL Cluster related (because that I do here) which focuses on Open Source: phenomenons, culture, business models and trends. Feel free to pop by for a leisurly non-technical read at The Open Life blog.

Friday May 23, 2008

"Telephony is just yet another Internet application." MySQL talks with Juha Heinänen.

During 2008 we are planning to run a series of interviews with interesting persons somehow related to the telecom field. In this first installment, we will have a chat with Juha Heinänen from Finland.

MySQL: Juha, you are a former professor of Computer Science and Communication technology, CTO (or similar positions) in at least Sonera, Telia and Song, former ATM specialist, responsible for bringing Internet to Finland and registering the .fi top-level domain, a consultant for many early network equipment startups some of which succeeded to be still with us today, and author of several RFC's. Nowadays you are a core contributor to the OpenSER SIP proxy, and you sell a VoIP platform called OpenSIPg based on that to Nordic operators. In addition you seem to live a life that would likely be a dream of many hackers, spending time in different parts of the world hacking on your favorite Open Source project. Even to this date, I don't think we've ever met in person.

MySQL: For many years now you have been working with the SIP protocol and OpenSER SIP Proxy. When did you first turn your eye to SIP and why did you become
interested in it?

JH: When working for Song Networks (now TDC) in late 1990 and early 2000, we saw a need for a hosted VoIP service for small businesses. Due to my IETF background, a natural protocol choice for me was SIP instead of the then dominant H.323. At first, we trialled a Swedish commercial SIP proxy called Hotsip, but didn't find it flexible enough for our purposes. I then heard about an Open Source SIP proxy project called SER, saw its great potential, and soon became a SER developer although I had not written a single line of code during the past 10 years.

MySQL: Knowing that you enjoy coding, it must have been great to return to it! By the way, what is your short, 2-3 sentence introduction to OpenSER?

JH: The OpenSER project is a spin off of the SER project. Our aim in OpenSER is to bring to the market a well tested new release of OpenSER SIP proxy every 10 months or so. Today OpenSER is a very successful project with many of high quality developers and a wide user community.

MySQL: How do you see the Internet vs the traditional telephone network? Will SIP (or some other Internet based protocol) eventually completely replace the Plain Old Telephone System?

JH: This is hard to answer, because there always exists the "dark side" that wants to retain the old walled garden style POTS service no matter what equipment or protocols they internally use. These people see telephony as something special, not just yet another Internet application.

MySQL: I remember once talking to you, that you were furious about an operator who insisted on you to implement minute based billing for OpenSER :-) I guess you never did that for them?

(Note to readers: Not that you would consider this for any other Internet protocols either, but this kind of requirement is especially ridiciluous for a peer-to-peer protocol like SIP, since most of the data in a VoIP call may not route through the operator network at all, so it would be hard to justify the operator charging for traffic that is actually happening in some other operators network!)

JH: I don't recall this, but time based billing of SIP calls would be very difficult to implement without also getting involved with routing of media. That, in turn, would mean that most of the advantages that SIP based telephony has over POTS would be lost.

MySQL: What do you think about the IP Multimedia Subsystem?

JH: IMS is a next generation implementation of walled garden telecommunication services. I let it live its own life. I don't care if some users are too rich or lazy and choose IMS instead of open Internet based services as long as I'm not forced to do so.

MySQL: What will happen to service providers (mobile and fixed)? Especially as VoIP companies provide much cheaper calls. And web companies like Google are
offering services. Will the carriers be reduced to bitpipes?

JH: Mobile or fixed Internet access is always worth the money and I gladly pay for it. What I don't like is when operators start to milk their cows without providing any real added value, e.g., by charging huge roaming fees for mobile Internet access. It is operators' own choice if they let companies like Skype and Google take away their customers by not providing their own Internet based telecommunication services.

MySQL: Or asking the same question differently, who will eventually be our service provider for voice calls? Google, Nokia, my current telecom operator, or the current VoIP service providers or maybe some decentralised non-commercial and free peer-to-peer VoIP network?

JH: To me telephony is just yet another Internet application. The same parties will be providing it in the future that today are providing email, web, etc. services. In case of my own company, TutPro Inc., it is TutPro Inc. itself, because I don't like the idea that someone else (perhaps with ties to government spy agencies) is storing my emails or routing my VoIP calls.

MySQL: What is your view on convergence? Or even simpler, what is convergence?

JH: Convergence is a term that I don't fully understand. My goal is to be able to use Internet for all my communication needs. What prevents it from happening today is too slow and (sometimes) too expensive mobile Internet access that is unsuitable for real-time communications.

MySQL: So, tell us more about your current projects. What are you working on now?

JH: I have OpenSER and SEMS based SIP platform called OpenSIPg that a few operators and organizations in Finland and Sweden use to offer their VoIP and presence services. Developing OpenSIPg keeps me busy, but thanks to mobile Internet access, does not tie me physically to some particular place or country.

One new thing that I have been working on is a simple, certificate free mechanism for reliable verification of trusted peers. It is based on Radius protocol and a broker model similar to what was used already long time ago for dial-up access.

MySQL: I know you recommend MySQL Cluster to your customers as the database to go with OpenSIPg. What is the database mainly storing, and what features make MySQL Cluster the best fit?

JH: Well, firstly OpenSER SIP proxy keeps all location and presence data in MySQL database tables. My own principle in developing OpenSIPg has been that my customers should not need to edit any text files when they provision users or the VoIP infrastructure itself. So all OpenSIPg information is kept in MySQL databases, where it can be accessed and manipulated via web based GUIs.

The databases should naturally be resilient and therefore a clustered implementation is the best fit.

MySQL: By the way, for the more technical readers, do you have any kind of numbers about the loads OpenSER and the database behind it must support? Like calls per second or SQL transactions per second? (I know the Finnish operators are not the biggest in the world, but still.)

JH: None of my customers have hit or even been close to any performance limits yet. Nevertheless, a good SIP proxy design tries to minimize the number database operations that need to be performed per request. We thus recommend MySQL cluster more for high availability rather than performance reasons.

MySQL: If you had 3 wishes - but restricted to MySQL Cluster - what would you wish for?

JH: I would wish that MySQL 5.1 would become available also as Debian/Ubuntu packages, because cluster capabilities in 5.1 are more developed than those in 5.0. From maintenance point of view it is not a good idea to install any software to servers from tar files. My other wishes are related to ease of use. Setting up and running MySQL cluster should not require a high degree in database administration.

MySQL: So let's see, your product is based on Linux, OpenSER, PHP, FreeRADIUS and MySQL. What is the importance of Open Source in Telecom? What can Open Source do for Telecom?

JH: Open Source is important for everyone. Large developer and user communities of Open Source software can produce rapidly higher quality software than even the biggest companies can do on their own.

MySQL: Years ago, we had an email chat about a mobile application that was using SMS messages to communicate with a server. Your quick comment was: "Nice, if you want to use such legacy technology." As the pioneer spirit you are, where do you see the border between "legacy" and "modern" in 2008?

JH: I think I was referring to SMS as "legacy" technology because SMS was not terminal and underlying network independent Internet application. That is still true today and for some strange reason even Nokia has not yet made SIP based messaging available in its phones.

MySQL: And what will be legacy in 2011?

JH: I'm afraid that in 2011 there still exist mobile network specific services that do not work end-to-end unless each mobile operator has made a bilateral agreement with each other mobile operator. Such a service model simply does not scale nor lead to rapid development of innovative services.

MySQL: Thanks Juha for taking the time to talk to us, it has been a pleasure. And all the best to your future projects.

About

The people of the MySQL Telecom team writes about developments around MySQL and MySQL Cluster and how these products are used by our Communitcations industry customers. (Image jasmic@Flickr)

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