MariaDB close to cracking MySQL website speed issue

A drawback of MySQL for high-availability websites should soon be eliminated by the MariaDB fork, according to Michael 'Monty' Widenius, the open-source database's main author.

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Monty Widenius: All high-availability websites are critically dependent on this issue. Now we are very close to solving that permanently

Michael "Monty" Widenius, principal creator of the open-source MySQL database, says the MariaDB fork he helped set up in 2009 is close to redressing a shortcoming that has long hampered website performance.

An issue inherent in MySQL, which is a key component in the widely-used LAMP open-source web application software stack, is the relative speed of the master MySQL database server and its slaves, according to Widenius.

"In the MySQL world, we've had one of the most flexible applications for almost 15 years, but there's always been one big problem: you can have a master that was very efficient but you could never create a slave that could be as fast as the master — there was always a lag," Widenius said.

"People are very interested in that specific area because all high-availability websites are critically dependent on this issue. Now we are very close to solving that permanently."

Widenius said MariaDB would be revealing the details of its solutions to improving master-slave performance shortly. "We are talking about three or four months," he said.

He added that the application of the database — how it is distributed — was typically set up with the master doing all the updates and the slaves doing the reads.

"The problem was always that if you have a master that gets lots and lots of writes, the slave couldn't keep up — they weren't fast enough," he said.

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"That was because we didn't do things as optimally as we could have, and with MariaDB we now have two solutions for that [issue]. We can actually make the slaves faster than the master for the first time in MySQL history and people are very interested in that."

MariaDB recently announced its planned merger with MySQL services firm SkySQL to secure the open-source fork's future, raising its credibility among larger organisations and helping it develop beyond web roles into big data and the cloud.

The merger also reunites key figures , including Widenius, behind the development of MySQL, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008 for $1bn, which was in turn bought by Oracle for $7.4bn in 2010. By then, some of the database's original creators had already left to produce the MariaDB fork while others formed the SkySQL support firm in 2010.

Widenius said he was unaware of Oracle's efforts in the area of master-slave performance. "We haven't seen any indication that Oracle is working on that," he said.

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