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2003/01/08 - David Axmark


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Alain Buret - Please present yourself

David Axmark - David Axmark, Co-Founder of MySQL AB (and the MySQL project). I am an old Free Software user and started using tools like Gnu Emacs in the early eighties. Since than I have based almost all my work on these tools. I got my first in person introduction to the philosophy when I heard Richard Stallman speak in Stockholm 1986.

Alain Buret - How did you start working on MySQL ?

David Axmark - We needed a SQL database so I convinced Monty (the other main co-founder) to start working with me on one. We started from lots of database routines that Monty had written before. And the idea (from the very beginning!) was to provide a very usable database free for most people while make money with dual licensing.

Alain Buret - For a long time, an important missing feature in MySQL was the lack of transaction support. What other important feature do you consider as missing, or would you like to add in MySQL ?

David Axmark - Well the short answer is everything in the SQL-99 standard! And thats a LOT. In the short term, sub-selects, geographical data, and character sets (including Unicode) per column will appear in 4.1. The source for 4.1 is already available and the first binaries should appear this year (2002).

Version 5 will contain stored procedures based on the SQL-99 Standard. That is scheduled to be out first quarter next year.

Alain Buret - Any feature present in Mysql that is not present in other open-source DBs ?

David Axmark - We do not have any major 'standard' ones (like transactions, view and triggers). But we have things like our "Storage Engines" that lets you choose the way a table is stored. So you can choose to have full transaction support (InnoDB) for one table and store other logging tables using the non transactional MyISAM. We also have lots and lots of smaller features that our users have requested for daily work. "SELECT foo LIMIT 10,20" is the classic example.

Alain Buret - MySQL is also a commercial company running support. Can you tell us a bit more about that, the kind of clients you have, the main problem encountered, ...

David Axmark - Actually, support is only a small portion of our revenues. The by far biggest revenue generator is commercial licenses.

We can sell licenses since we own all the copyrights for the MySQL Server, C and Java clients. And some people can not/do not want to use GPL code. In that case we sell them a license for EXACTLY the same code. We also provide some warranties and so on. This gives us most of our income.

The also sell services like training and support and that works reasonably well. The problem is to reach all the users what do not know that we are a commercial company and not just a pool of developers.

As for clients we have companies like Yahoo (a growing number of 'subsites' including Finance), OSDN (Slashdot and others sites), Cisco, Ericsson, Veritas, Alcatel, US Census bureau, Hyperion, Google, Novell, Texas Instruments, Omaha Steaks, and thousands of others.

But of course we do not charge anywhere near as large amounts of money from them as our proprietary competitors, reflecting the fact that the MySQL Total Cost of Ownership is low.

Alain Buret - What kind of arguments would you give someone to persuade him to use MySQL instead of another (free) database ?

David Axmark - Well that depends on which kind of application. We have a very very large base of web sites using MySQL and for that I would recommend MySQL in almost every case.

MySQL has always been very aimed at practical use and we will continue that trend. It very easy to upgrade MySQL and we have only required one data format change since we started (ISAM to MyISAM).

MySQL is extremely stable and proved under heavy in mission critical applications. It handles 100 of millions of dynamic web requests per day. It also have a very large community of users that has generated a lot of information. Both in the form of web-pages and books in many languages.

We also have very good support from all common languages (PHP, Perl, Pyton, Ruby, TCL, C, C++ and so on). And our ODBC, JDBC drivers are top class.

But if you need some of the functionality we do not yet have you have to use something else. Preferably another OpenSource DB like SAP-DB, Firebird(Interbase) or PostgreSQL.

Alain Buret - What are you expectation from you Fosdem talk ?

David Axmark - Meet with some of our users, since we know such a small fraction of our user base. And do some talking about MySQL short and long term future (and even some history).

I also hope to learn more about what features people want to see first in MySQL. And of course what experiences they have had with MySQL.


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