MySQL Conference

I have had an opportunity to attend MySQL Conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center from April 15-17. Why did I attend it? I am neither a DBA nor a hard core database engineer/developer (though we do use MySQL for our internal tools, so it is definitely helpful for me to attend). I attended the conference, because our team (Globalization) will eventually get engaged to work with them on the MySQL's globalization needs, and I will be one of the point of contacts for this project.

In any case, attending this conference was very interesting and somewhat eye opening experience for me.

I have been working with Java and its extended family technologies for years. Not that I was not aware of other technologies out there, but I did underestimate the power and/or popularity of other technologies, especially on the client side. It seems like PHP and Ruby are very dominant when combined with MySQL. Even our old friend perl is doing very well. It's time for me to pick up some books!

There were a lot of tools / technologies that were showcased at the conference. Here are a few of them that got my attention, because they related to what I am doing with our internal tools development. I am sure others have different lists, based on their needs.

1. MySQL Workbench

The very first session that I attended and it was a good start. This tool just has reached GA (General Availability) status and it is ready for us to try out. In short, this tool helps us to visually design database schemas. But that's not it. It's packed with a lot of useful features and functionality, and the demo was quite fascinating. I know there are other tools in the same domain (mostly not free) but this one does look very promising. And it's free to use!

2. MySQL Sandbox

This is not part of the MySQL family, but the tool is available under GPL. This tool allows users to easily create a sandbox environment for MySQL. It runs fast and will save tons of time for DBA/engineers if they need to do a lot of testing on different versions of MySQL and/or use clustering. The selling point of this tool is that it is easy to use with hardly any configurations required. I completely agree with this philosophy, and quite frankly, I was wowed by the demo.

3. Sphinx

This is a full-text search engine, distributed under GPL. It works very well with MySQL and its performance seems to be blazing fast. It can be embedded into any client application. I am very interested in testing it out in our internal tools.

4. Zmanda

This is an open source backup software for MySQL. I used to test a backup software when I was in college, so I am somewhat familiar with the complexity and criticality of software backups. Obviously, the amount of data that needs to be backed up has increased exponentially since my days; however, the concept still remains the same. It was interesting to note that one of the keynotes was presented by the CEO of this company on their product line - perhaps an indication of the importance of having proper backups.

I found sessions on different tools for benchmarking and monitoring as well as best practices for DBA and schema designers to be interesting. The funny (and ironic) thing is, much of the best practices were somewhat common sense (like doing your backups on a regular basis and making sure that you test your backups) but we often neglect to do it.

Keynotes were interesting also. Many big guys were there to entertain the audience. Big data and how to handle them efficiently seemed like the key topic that challenges MySQL and the like, going forward.

On the exhibition side, I saw a range of sponsors - big names like Sun & MySQL (of course!), HP, Jasper Software, Google, Facebook, as well as startups. I also saw an booth, and I had to stop by and ask for the reason for their booth (it seemed somewhat odd to see them at MySQL Conference). The lady manning the booth told me that they have a plugin now to read MySQL database and convert the data to OpenOffice format and display them. Interesting. There were companies like Red Hat Linux - to support MySQL as a partner.

Particularly, I was excited to see Jasper Software there. I am currently evaluating Jasper Software's JasperReports technology for our internal tools' reporting engine, so having an opportunity to chat with them was very worthwhile for me.

One disappointment for me was that the globalization needs were not very strongly addressed. I attended one session on character sets, and it appeared that MySQL still has ways to go when it comes to multi-byte character support. Good thing is that the next release (6.0) seems to be much more promising in this regard.

Overall, I had fun and learned a lot. Food was better than what I had expected (hot food, with different cultural flavors). But by the end of the third day, I was quite exhausted and I was ready to hit the road and go home.


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