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11/22/2006
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MySQL Looks To Make Database Administrators' Jobs Easier

The new version has monitoring tools designed to help administrators stop database problems before they get serious.

MySQL, the supplier of the open source database with the same name, this week started shipping a new enterprise version of its MySQL Server 5.0 database that eases the workload of database administrators. The new version comes with an expert advisory service built in, as well as monitoring information and problem-identifying alerts offered on a dashboard.

The dashboard system has operational intelligence built into it that can detect trouble signs in a database's operation. Administrators also can customize it with up to 65 rules for monitoring running systems, says Zack Urlocker, MySQL executive VP for products.

Online Buddies' database administrator Sheeri Kritzer is beta testing Enterprise Edition for the nine production databases that she oversees. The site, which includes dating, employment, and personal ads, has 800,000 users, with 40% using it once or more per week. Kritzer was an early user of MySQL Enterprise advisory service.

The Enterprise dashboard "allows us to see trends in CPU utilization, database activity, database connection, and cache hit ratios," she noted in an e-mail response to questions. The monitoring detail can be applied to a group of servers or any individual server.

The monitoring tools can help administrators identify problems that can cause a database to run slower and slower over time. Possible causes of such slowdowns include queries not finding the data they need in cache, or too many queries requiring full-table scans on large tables. The new dashboard "will alert you to those scenarios; also when CPU usage is high or someone has changed the schema in a database," she wrote.

The monitoring allows alerts before a problem becomes a production-threatening issue. In the event of a database failure, the dashboard advisory service has a built-in audit trail that can be used to reconstruct events that occurred before a crash.

"We haven't had to do one of those in a while, but I can imagine it would be useful to see the CPU load, connections, and database activity just before a crash," crucial forensic evidence when seeking to prevent the next mishap, she wrote.

Urlocker says 40% of MySQL's business is now purchased for enterprise database use. MySQL got its start as a Web site database for startups, thanks to its ease of implementation and speed of serving content. It's used at Slashdot.org and other content-serving sites. MySQL Enterprise includes the open source InnoDB transaction engine, with enterprise-oriented backup and recovery features. InnoDB is now owned by Oracle but the system is still issued under the open source GPL license.

MySQL earlier this year received $18.5 million in its third round of venture capital funding. Investors included Intel Capital; Red Hat, which distributes MySQL with Red Hat Enterprise Linux; and SAP Ventures, a unit of application supplier SAP AG.

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