MySQL upgrade now slated for June, Sun says

Sun Microsystems Inc. today pushed out a "near final" version of MySQL 5.1, but company officials said it's holding back the production release of the open-source database until it irons out some remaining bugs.

Sun wants to avoid issuing another buggy release of the database, as MySQL AB (which Sun acquired in January) did when it released MySQL 5.0 two years ago, said Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL who is now a senior vice president at Sun.

"When we released MySQL 5.0, it didn't really meet our quality standards," he said today at the start of the MySQL Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif. "With 5.1, we are being much more conservative, much harder on ourselves."

Sun made a "release candidate" of the software available for download today. Mickos said it will release the production version by the end of June, or about three months later than planned.

This is the first MySQL conference since Sun acquired the company in January. MySQL had been planning an initial public offering before Mickos decided to accept Sun's $1 billion acquisition offer at a dinner with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz last November.

Mickos showed a photo of himself and two other MySQL executives ceremoniously burning the IPO documents they never used in a fire on the beach at sunset in Santa Cruz, Calif.

"We took all those bankers' documents and our stock ticker symbol and everything else and we burned it," he said. "It was a sad moment, but also a moment of leaving things behind" and accepting the company's future as part of Sun.

Sun says the deal makes sense because it will be able to bring its vast sales, engineering and support resources to MySQL. Sun has about 32,000 employees worldwide, and MySQL had only 400. Sun also hopes the deal will open doors to new markets in which it can sell its server hardware and other products.

Mickos and Schwartz, who also spoke at the conference today, sought to emphasize the synergies between the companies. Schwartz said he has been a champion of open-source software since he took over as CEO of Sun two years ago last week.

"The No. 1 thing we are working on with Sun now is performance and scale," Mickos said. "We are known as one of the fastest databases, but all our big customers tell us they want more scale."

MySQL already has some very large customers, including Inc. and Google Inc. But such customers typically modify the open-source software to support their large-scale Web applications.

Sun's goal is to add better scale and performance to the official, supported releases of MySQL, and to better support traditional back-end applications -- an area currently dominated by IBM, Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

My SQL 5.1 includes some back-end capabilities, such as table and index partitioning -- which will improve query response times, and row-based replication for faster and more reliable replication. The update also includes an event scheduler that lets administrators automate common SQL tasks.

The release candidate issued today is not recommended for production use unless a customer needs the new features right away, Mickos said. He said the delay in the release was not related to Sun's acquisition. The release candidate already has fewer bugs than the production release of MySQL 5.0 had, he said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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