How MySQL snuck up on us

In some parts of the geek universe, MySQL is pretty much the only database in existence. If you are a web developer, using python, perl or ruby and want to develop a web site of almost any size, you will almost certainly choose MySQL. In the web development world, it is the obvious choice. It is cheap, it does the job and everyone else is using it too.

In the enterprise application world, MySQL is barely being acknowledged. I spent 30 longs minutes on the phone with Netapp support before they finally realized that I’m talking about MySQL, which is not SQL Server and they don’t have a snapshot based backup solution for us. I’m not disparaging Netapp support. Netapp has the best support I’ve ever encountered, but MySQL is simply not part of their world.

So, we have a world of free databases and cheap storage, and we have the world of Oracle and Netapp. Paul Vallee of Pythian made an excellent case of why Oracle DBAs should start learning MySQL, but I kind of suspect that once the organization got used to free databases, they may be a bit cheap on the DBA salaries too.

MySQL is difficult to avoid these days and it is sneaking up into the most conservative enterprise organizations. Developers like it a lot, for some reason it seems to be easier for them to learn and use than Oracle. Maybe because installing it is a single rpm command and it usually arrives pre-installed with their Linux boxes?

Of course, what developers like ultimately finds its way into production. We are an ITIL organization with very detailed deployment procedures. However, by the time the DBAs are involved, it usually looks like this:
Application Owner: Hey DBAs, we are deploying a brand new application tomorrow. We need you to set up the database.
DBAs: Sure. SQL Server or Oracle?
Application Owner: MySQL. Is that a problem?

Finally we reached a common ground: The application owner understands that his database will get shaky support from us for now, Management knows that we need to purchase MySQL support, and the Oracle DBAs need to learn MySQL. I just hope this won’t decrease my salary.


5 Comments on “How MySQL snuck up on us”

  1. Paul Vallee says:

    Hi Chen

    Take a look at this opening:,169213,169213#msg-169213

    120k. 21 days vacation & 2 catered meals a day.

    The mysql job board ( is filled with openings like these. Supply & demand is merciless and something tells me the days of mysql DBAs being cheaper are over.


  2. Adi Stav says:

    I don’t think you have to worry about your salary — for example, Linux system developers are not suffering just because these systems are cheaper than the Suns and AIXs of old.

  3. prodlife says:

    Hi Adi,

    I sure hope so, but I think the IT world is a bit different than the development world.

  4. prodlife says:

    Hi Paul,

    Ooh! The salary is competitive and 21 days of vacation is very tempting.
    I hope the MySQL boot camp will visit the bay area again soon.

  5. […] while Chen Shapira may be worried that DBAs will get obviated, I’d predict instead that Oracle technology will become more full-featured at the storage […]

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