From its open-source nature and robust security features to its flexibility and scalability, MySQL has a lot to offer. Let’s take a closer look at MySQL and the benefits it offers, so you can make the right choice on determining whether to use it in your technology stack.
What is MySQL?
MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that is free, open-source, and uses various proprietary licenses, including GNU General Public License (GPL). As an RDBMS, MySQL uses SQL to manage data inside a database. It organizes correlated data into one or more data tables, and this correlation helps structure the data.
It allows programmers to use SQL to create, modify, and extract data from the relational database. By normalizing data in the rows and columns of the tables, MySQL turns into a scalable yet flexible data storage system with a user-friendly interface that can manage lots of data.
MySQL also controls user access to the database as an added security measure, managing users and providing network access based on administrator rules. And it facilitates the testing of database integrity and the creation of backups.
While MySQL is normally accessed using SQL, it is often used with other programs as a component of various technology stacks, including LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/PHP/Python). As a result, several web applications that require relational database capabilities run on databases that use MySQL, including Drupal, Joomla, phpBB, and WordPress. Some popular websites even include Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
What Makes MySQL So Popular?
MySQL is one of many RDBMSs available in the market. Still, it is among the most popular ones — second only to Oracle Database when compared using critical parameters like search engine results, LinkedIn profiles, and frequency of mentions on online forums. In addition, the reliance of major tech giants on MySQL further solidifies its popularity.
Although the database management industry is dominated by technology behemoths like Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM, free and open-source database management systems (DBMSs) such as Apache Cassandra, PostgreSQL, and MySQL remain highly competitive.
Here are four primary reasons for the incredible popularity of MySQL.
Easy to Use
MySQL is an easy-to-use and flexible RDBMS. Within 30 minutes of starting MySQL’s simple installation process, you’re able to modify source code to meet your needs. And as a free, open-source system, you don’t need to spend money for this level of freedom, including upgrading to an advanced version.
While choosing the right RDBMS software, the security of your data must be your priority. Fortunately, MySQL always prioritizes data security with its access privilege system and user account management. MySQL also offers host-based verification and password encryption.
A server cluster backs MySQL. Therefore, MySQL offers smooth assistance with optimum speed, whether you store massive amounts of big data or perform intensive business intelligence (BI) activities.
MySQL has been in the field for many years, turning it into an industry standard. It also means there are abundant resources for skilled developers. In addition, rapid developments in MySQL are possible anytime, and users can get freelance software experts for a smaller fee.
Top 8 Advantages of MySQL
1. Open Source
MySQL is one of the most popular choices for organizations or businesses regarding software as a service. Its community edition is freely available for anyone to use and modify, offering superior speed, scale, and reliability. This can be extremely beneficial, especially when businesses want to avoid paying licensing fees.
Since the source code is available for anyone to view and modify, developers can make changes to their software to suit their specific needs. This flexibility can benefit businesses with unique requirements or if there is a need to integrate the software with other tools or systems.
2. Data Security
MySQL is the most secure database management system in the world. The recent version of MySQL offers data security and transactional processing support that can significantly benefit any business, especially e-commerce businesses that carry out frequent monetary transactions.
3. Scalability on Demand
Scalability on demand is the hallmark feature of MySQL. It manages deeply embedded applications using a shallow footprint, even in databases that store terabytes of data. Moreover, MySQL offers customized solutions to e-commerce enterprises with specific database requirements.
4. Higher Efficiency
MySQL has several unique features, including a distinct storage engine software. It allows system administrators to configure the MySQL database server for flawless performance. It doesn’t matter if it is an e-commerce web application receiving a million daily queries or a high-speed transactional processing system.
MySQL is created to meet the increasing demands of almost every application and to ensure full-text indexes, optimum speed, and distinct caches for improved performance.
5. 24×7 Server Uptime
MySQL guarantees 24/7 uptime. It also offers a wide array of high-availability database solutions, including master/slave replication configurations and specialized server clusters.
6. Complete Transactional Support
MySQL is the number-one transactional database engine in the world. Its features include full atomic, consistent, isolated, durable, and multi-version transaction support as well as unrestricted row-level locking. Owing to these unique features, MySQL is a one-stop solution for comprehensive data integrity that ensures instant deadlock identification through server-enforced referential integrity.
7. Comprehensive Workflow Control
MySQL has easy usability with an average download and installation time of fewer than 30 minutes. In addition, it doesn’t matter whether your platform is Microsoft, Macintosh, Linux, or UNIX; MySQL is a comprehensive solution with self-management features. These features automate everything from configuration and space expansion to data design and database administration.
8. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
When enterprises migrate from current database applications to MySQL, they save a great deal on total cost of ownership. They can also save money on new projects. The reliability and ease of management of MySQL can save the money and time spent on troubleshooting that is otherwise spent in fixing downtimes and performance issues.
3 Tips on Enhancing MySQL Performance
Today, almost every open-source web application uses MySQL. It’s compatible with every hosting provider and is extremely easy to use. But, if your web application or e-commerce website is performing poorly, here are three performance hacks you should try.
1. Performance Fine-Tuning
You can improve your web application’s performance by fine-tuning your high-availability proxy or HAProxy instances. In addition, use updated load-balancing software to optimize your database and speed up your server. Database load-balancing software is designed to bring agility and scalability to expand capabilities if needed. It can meet unplanned performance demands in the future as well.
2. Security Audits
Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and spamming can wreak havoc on your database server. But, solid load-balancing software helps to easily prevent performance issues and increase uptime. It also ensures automatic failover and timely security updates.
3. Queries Optimization
Database optimization tools or techniques can only help fix the server load if websites and applications are coded well. But, SQL server load-balancing software can help in greater lengths. It is a one-stop solution for uptime maintenance, data consistency, performance enhancement, and reducing service costs.
Moreover, it ensures continuous availability for an enhanced customer experience. In short, MySQL does everything from running health checks to lowering the query wait time and evenly distributing the load across multiple servers.
Who Shouldn’t Use MySQL?
There are several sound reasons for not using MySQL; although, many are based on a misconception. So before implementing MySQL, go through these reasons and check whether they can apply to your enterprise. More than that, rejection of any database technology should be based on solid reasons rather than on the opinion of a database administrator (DBA).
Use of GPL
It is the biggest reason for not using MySQL. A GPL license is an advantage for many, but software with a GPL license may not suit specific environments. In these situations, a commercial license must be preferred if the Berkeley Source Distribution (BSD) license of PostgreSQL is still widely “open.”
In instances where MySQL is not free, GPL may not fit those situations well. For example, if you want to distribute the license for the database along with your project, the project must either be licensed under a similar compliant license, or you must get a commercial license for a fee.
A Proprietary Database Is Already Being Used
If an IT environment already has licensed Oracle and Sybase and several specific licenses for MS-SQL Server, then the MS-SQL instances are primarily the result of department staff’s ignorance of their paid licenses for other databases.
Adding any other database, including MySQL, is not wise in this situation, as DBAs already have to deal with many environments. Maintenance of a common database lessens the management burden. Further, if the company already paid for a proprietary database software license, a free, open-source database management system like MySQL is optional.
High-Volume Applications Need to Be Processed Quickly
MySQL needs to be optimized for high-volume applications and may not be suitable for fast data processing or streaming. For instance, users working on Internet of Things (IoT) systems require databases that can handle high-volume writes and reads as well as low latency.
For such cases, databases designed for IoT applications or real-time data processing work best. Although, it is important to note that MySQL can still be used for real-time data processing. However, it will require significant tweaks and optimizations to achieve the desired performance.
Complex Data Structures Require Advanced Querying
As a relational database management system, MySQL may not be suitable for applications with complex data structures that require advanced querying capabilities. For complex and high write-intensive workloads, NoSQL databases like MongoDB are more suited. Moreover, MySQL may not be suitable for applications with specialized needs, such as graph database capabilities or time series data.
There Is a Lack of Accessible Certification and Support
Certification is a favorite thing for some IT enterprises. Although MySQL has a certification training program, its availability is more challenging than Oracle or MS-SQL Server. In broader terms, even if IT professionals with MySQL skills are easy to find, certification or training programs are more difficult to reach out to with the availability of only a few third-party training sources. Larger IT businesses desire commercial database systems with enterprise experience, while some professionals with MySQL experience may have lesser depth.
Another related issue is the availability of qualified third-party support. The availability of support from the vendor mitigates the issue but only to some degree. The solution to the problem lies in solid third-party, on-site support.
Microsoft, Oracle, and Sybase are publicly traded companies. On the other hand, MySQL is a private enterprise running on open-source technology. That means its financials or other business-related documents are optional by law to make it into the public record.
As a result, a listed company is relatively transparent, and this transparency provides certainty, stability, and security to some IT professionals or entrepreneurs. In other words, dealing with an immense reputed corporate entity helps some people sleep peacefully at night.
There Is a View That MySQL Doesn’t Scale Well
There is a widespread perception among many IT professionals that MySQL needs to scale better. However, it is a matter of debate, and most arguments discuss the difference between scaling up (vertical) and scaling out (horizontal) processes. Scalability is always one of the top reasons for using MySQL; although, it discusses scaling out more than scaling up.
It has been estimated (without much evidence) that most trained DBAs prefer a proprietary RDBMS such as Oracle to an open-source data management system. In a larger IT environment under the management of a full-time DBA, MySQL creates lesser interest.
In this situation, the criticism of MySQL’s scalability becomes irrelevant. When you have talents and monetary resources at your disposal, it is always better to equip them with the tools they are comfortable with. This approach always pays off in the long run.
Top 3 MySQL Alternatives
Of course, MySQL is a widely used database management system. On top of that, it can be easily installed and integrated with various applications. However, there are also other excellent alternative database management systems available in the market. Some of the well-known options include:
PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, is an open-source yet powerful data management system that rivals any other paid RDBMS. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac, and BSD.
- PostgreSQL has a holistic approach toward data integrity and robustness, and it is reflected by its comprehensive ACID compliance.
- The performance of PostgreSQL increases with each release. It is also proven by many benchmark tests.
- A strong open-source community backs PostgreSQL with tutorials, guides, and support.
- Updates, features, and fixes are released on time.
- PostgreSQL supports popular programming languages such as Perl and Python, allowing programmers to quickly transform a database server into a reliable service with complex business logic.
- PostgreSQL is not suitable for small applications, as they can’t handle its full power and complex operations.
MariaDB is a rapidly growing, MySQL-compatible, open-source database. It has free and paid versions along with a variety of plug-ins to provide more functionalities. Moreover, it works under GPL.
- MariaDB has strong open-source community support in development, documentation, troubleshooting, and tutorials.
- It has cutting-edge features such as a geographic information system (GIS).
- It has dynamic column support that allows a few NoSQL functionalities.
- An expensive horizontal scaling process.
- A lesser performance potential with bulky databases.
- Poor load and cluster management.
- Lesser advanced features.
SQLite is an RDMS that is not a client-server database. However, SQLite and PostgreSQL have similar syntax.
- It is a lightweight software.
- SQLite is self-contained and requires little or no support from external libraries or operating systems.
- It is portable across multiple applications with cross-platform support.
- SQLite is reliable with little complications.
- It is ideal for testing and initial development stages.
- No configuration is needed.
- No multi-user support.
- Missing SQL features, such as FOR EACH STATEMENT and RIGHT OUTER JOIN.
Bottom Line: Advantages of MySQL
MySQL is a versatile, mature, open-source, and extensible database management system. Moreover, if we weigh the advantages of MySQL discussed above, five of its key features and benefits stand out from the rest.
MySQL is a reliable, easy-to-use, and secure RDBMS that is enterprise-ready with support from GPL and can scale with businesses after some fine-tuning and optimization.
Reasons are plenty for MySQL’s popularity. It’s an accessible database management system with improved capability to deal with modern problems. If you need something beyond the core functionality of MySQL, MariaDB may be a better option.