MySQL to offer database monitoring service

Open-source company MySQL AB confirmed recent reports that it will offer a database monitoring and advisory service as part of its MySQL Enterprise commercial subscription service later this year.

Last month, a source close to MySQL revealed that the vendor’s developers had been working on a project code-named “Merlin” for nearly two years to create a server-based database monitoring and advisory service. The service constantly scans a user’s MySQL database network to identify any potential systems crashes, bottlenecks or security vulnerabilities.

MySQL Tuesday unveiled MySQL Enterprise, a new version of the company’s commercial subscription service that will include the Merlin technology. The vendor made the announcement at its second annual Northern European customer conference, which is taking place in London.

The move forms part of MySQL’s plans over the coming year to provide tools and services to make life easier for users who have to administer the company’s database, according to MySQL Chief Executive Officer Marten Mickos. Merlin is the major product announcement with the vendor possibly offering some add-on services over time, he said.

MySQL customers at small to midsize businesses (SMBs) often can’t afford to employ database administrators (DBAs), while enterprises have trouble finding DBAs with MySQL skills, Mickos said.

Driven by user demand, MySQL is positioning the Merlin service as able to function as a “virtual DBA” to automatically handle many traditional database administration tasks including performance tuning, troubleshooting, security planning and upgrade or security patch installations. The service includes more than 65 rules which it can check systems against to provide advice in areas including database security, performance optimization, schema design and replication. MySQL intends to provide additional rules over time and users can also create and customize their own rules. Merlin can’t fully replace a DBA, but can act as “an assistant,” Mickos said.

MySQL developers carried out “the clear majority” of the work involved in building Merlin, Mickos said. The service uses part of open-source systems management vendor Hyperic’s SIGAR technology, he added. SIGAR (system information gatherer and reporter) is a cross-platform library and command-line tool for accessing operating system and hardware level data in Java, Perl and .Net.

Merlin is set to become part of the MySQL Network segment of the company’s MySQL Enterprise commercial subscription when it’s rolled into the offering later this quarter.

MySQL opted for “Enterprise” as the new name for its commercial subscription service, which includes its database, tools and support services, using the previous name “Network” to denote the network monitoring and advisory services portion of the offering.

Mickos said that MySQL uses “enterprise” for all sizes of users from SMBs up to much larger companies, with the word meaning “enterprising” rather than evoking Fortune 500 companies. “We’re trying to simplify database administration for heavy mission-critical use,” he added, for companies that can’t afford to have any downtime in their IT operations.

Offering Merlin technology may help MySQL generate more business, Mickos said, particularly among some conservative companies who may feel more reassured about using an open-source database when they have access to tools to monitor the software and anticipate any potential system issues.

MySQL offers MySQL Enterprise in four different tiers — basic, silver, gold and platinum — for an annual subscription from US$595 up to $4,995 per database server. The MySQL Enterprise Server database and technical support pieces of the commercial subscription are available now. Merlin technology will not be included in the basic tier of subscription, but will be offered for the three other tiers, Mickos said.

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