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MySQL successor, Drizzle, reaches maturity

Brian ‘Krow’ Aker, MySQL’s former director of architecture, brings us up to speed on the first stable GA release from the Drizzle database project designed for web applications and cloud computing...

Open source database guru Brian Aker launches MySQL killer

Drizzle began nearly three years ago as a project to deliver a new database that focused on MySQL’s original goals of ease-of-use, reliability and performance. With many of the original MySQL project team involved, Drizzle reimagines MySQL while remaining compatible.

“We speak the MySQL protocol, so the typical MySQL application runs just fine on Drizzle without change,” commented Aker, introducing the product. “We designed Drizzle to work as a piece of someone’s current infrastructure, not be yet another application which has a costly integration. We have a NoSQL sort of solution via the blob streaming module, but we are first and foremost a relational database.”

Taking the MySQL codebase as its starting point, Drizzle claims to increase reliability and performance by removing non-essential code, refactoring the remaining code, which has been moved to C++. The MySQL kernel has been replaced by a slimmer microkernel architecture with well-defined APIs. All non-core functionality is then farmed out to modules that can be developed, licensed or swapped out independently of the kernel. This new architecture also gives the end-user more choice in configuration.

According to Aker, another core differentiator is the effort made by the Drizzle team to make the database friendlier to develop on and with. “We have fixed all the warnings in Drizzle. This is something that isn’t sexy work, and the only way it is justified is because cleaning up warnings fixes bugs,” he reasoned.

The result of all this effort is that Drizzle looks set to become the natural successor to MySQL, especially for community developers unhappy with the idea of donating their time to Oracle. “We are without a doubt the descendant of MySQL that has the largest contributor base, and we have long passed MySQL with regards to contributors,” commented Aker. “We are well into the hundreds when it comes to developers who have contributed code. We have had more then 921 commits in the last month across 20 people. Our numbers go up and down, but we are consistently more than double anyone else in size.”

Although relations between Oracle and the Drizzle team seem to have been virtually non-existent, the project has not been without its corporate backers. Rackspace has been a heavy investor, with core developers Jay Pipes, Monty Taylor, Eric Day, Lee Bieber and Stewart Smith all being employed by the hosting company to work on Drizzle, as well as its integration with the Apache Cassandra NoSQL project. Although Google currently has its own fork of MySQL, the company’s open source programs manager, Chris DiBona, has also promoted Drizzle in the Summer of Code project.

More information on Drizzle, downloads and details of how to contribute to the project can be found here.