The new kid on the block – Drizzle

Before today, Drizzle was known as a light form of rain found in Seattle (among other places). Not any more. If you have not read the news already today, Drizzle, Clouds, “What If?” is the new kid on the RDBMS bock.

Faster, leaner and designed with the original goals of ease-of-use, reliability and performance, Drizzle will make an impact in those organizations that are seeking a viable database storage solution for large scalable applications. The key to Drizzle is several fold. First, the crud has been removed. The first part of Drizzle development is to remove bloat or non functioning software from the MySQL tree. In fact if you monitor the commits, it reads like, this has been removed, these files have been deleted, this code has been refactored, this new library has been introduced. Design decisions that have limited MySQL’s development for years are being simply cast aside.

The current landscape has become more complicated in 2008. You have the official MySQL releases, 5.0 is becoming ancient (being released almost 3 years ago), 5.1 is now clearly a lame duck, no release date for past few years, (the internal joke was 5.1 will be released in Q2, but the year is unspecified). 6.0 is in identity crisis with beta parts in alpha. These versions are moving so slowly, they are moving towards extinction like the dinosaurs. Monty Widenius is working solidly on Maria (and unofficial MySQL 5.1 branch), probably more stable and possibly released before 5.1. MySQL cluster has gone it’s own way, it was shackled by the 5.1 legacy and simply couldn’t wait for a GA product.

Jim Starkey (creator of Falcon, the new 6.0 storage engine) now is working in the clouds with Nimbus DB. Dorsal Source is lying dormant, Proven Scaling has it’s enterprise binaries and now Percona has it’s own patched ports. You have strong patches from Google and eBay that have zero hope of every being introduced into the official MySQL releases, probably until 7.x (5.1 and 6.0 have been frozen for a long time). Innodb from Oracle invested heavily in new features in a 5.1 plugin, announced at the MySQL Conference, broken in 1 day by MySQL releasing a new RC version making it in-compatible. Kickfire and Infobright have their own hacked versions, and Nitro DB I suspect have just given up waiting (now like 2 years).

With Sun’s acquisition now at T+6 months, cash and resources doesn’t appear to have helped with the official product. The single greatest movement in this period is that MySQL is now hosted under Launchpad, enabling anybody to access the source code, and even create branches like Jim Winstead reported. However I doubt you will see this helping code getting in the mainline product, but at least it will be more visible. This was an initiative long before the Sun acquisition, and indeed is against Sun policy of using Mercurial.

So why is Drizzle going to be any different or better?

You start with a committed list of contributors from already 6-7 different organizations. The clear goals of simplification, to make it faster and scale better on multi-core servers echo the work being done. You have developers who work in real world situations, not just coders for many years without experiencing operational use, and you have zero sales and marketing getting in the way. Removal of incomplete or stagnant functionality is key for the alpha version and includes stored procedures, triggers, prepared statements, query cache, extra data types, full-text, timezones etc is just the start.

Being small and nimble will enable Drizzle to develop and release code in much shorter iterations. You will see new developments allowing far greater plugin support via the new modularity approach and far better coding standards, making expert knowledge of how MySQL internals work a lesser requirement to contribute.

Will it fizzle, will it dazzle? Drizzle has the potential to be a stellar product. I’m a supporter and I hope to contribute in some small way.


About the Author

Ronald Bradford provides Consulting and Advisory Services in Data Architecture, Performance and Scalability for MySQL Solutions. An IT industry professional for two decades with extensive database experience in MySQL, Oracle and Ingres his expertise covers data architecture, software development, migration, performance analysis and production system implementations. His knowledge from 10 years of consulting across many industry sectors, technologies and countries has provided unique insight into being able to provide solutions to problems. For more information Contact Ronald.