Or, for short, the "2011 O'Reilly MySQL Users Conference & Expo". Yes thats the short name of the conference that, thus far, has brought me nothing but good info, good times, and insight into one of the most interesting open source communities around.
MySQL has been at the core of a real revolution in the way data driven applications have exploded on the internet. Its so easy to just install it, fire up php's mysql driver, and boom, you're saving and retrieving data. The *use* of MySQL has always been incredibly simple.
The politics has, at times, been confusing. Dual licensing was sort of an odd concept when MySQL AB was doing it "back in the day". Nobody really understood how it worked or how they could sell something that was also "free". But it worked out great for them. InnoDB got bought by Oracle and a lot of people thought "oh noes MySQL will have no transactional storage, Oracle will kill it." Well we see where thats about 180 degrees from what actually happened (R.I.P. Falcon).
So this year, with the oddness of Oracle not being the top sponsor at an event that had driven a lot of the innovation and collaboration in the MySQL world (ironically, choosing instead to spend their time and effort on a conference called "Collaborate"), I thought "wonderful, more politics".
But as Brian Aker says in his "State of the ecosystem" post, it was quite the opposite. The absence of the commercial entity responsible for MySQL took a lot of the purely business focused discussion down to almost a whisper, while big ideas and big thinking seemed to be extremely prominent.
Drizzle had quite a few sessions, including my own about what we've done with Drizzle in Ubuntu. This is particularly interesting to me because Drizzle is mostly driven by a community effort, though most of the heavy lifting work up until now has been sponsored by Sun then Rackspace. Its purely an idea of how a MySQL-like database should be written, and while it may be seeing limited production use now, the discussions were on how it can be used, what it does now, not where its going or who is going to pay for its development. Its such a good idea, I'm pretty convinced users will drive it in much the same way Apache was driven by users wanting to do interesting things with HTTP.
I saw a lot of interesting ideas around replication put forth as well. Galera, Tungsten, and Xeround all seem to be trying to build on MySQL's success with replication and NDB (a.k.a. MySQL Cluster). I really like that there are multiple takes on how to make a multi-master highly available / scalable system work. Getting all the people using and developing these things into one conference center is always pretty interesting to me.
The keynotes were especially interesting, as they were delivered by people who are sitting at the interesection of the old MySQL world, and the new MySQL "ecosystem". I missed Monty Widenius's keynote but it strikes me that he is still leading the charge for a simple, scalable, powerful database system, proving that the core of MySQL is mostly unchanged. Martin Mickos delivered a really interesting take on how MySQL was part of the last revolution in computing (LAMP) and how it may very well be a big part of the next revolution (IaaS, aka "the cloud"). Brian Aker reinforced that MySQL as a concept, and specifically, Drizzle, are just part of your Infrastructure (the I in IaaS).
Then on Thursday, Baron Schwartz blew the whole place up. Go, watch the video if you weren't there, or haven't seen it. Baron has always been insightful in his evaluation of the MySQL ecosystem. Maatkit came around when the community needed it, and on joining Percona I think he brought his clear thinking to Petr's bold decision making at just the right time to help fuel their rise as one of the most respected consulting firms in the "WebScale" world. So when Baron got up and said that the database is still going to scale up, that MySQL isn't going to lose to NoSQL or SomeSQL, but rather, that the infrastructure would adapt to the data requirements, it caught my attention, and got me nodding. And when he plainly called Oracle out for not supporting the conference, there was a hush over the croud followed by a big sigh. Its likely that those in attendance were the ones who understand that, and those who weren't there were probably the ones who need to hear it. I'd guess by now they've seen the video or at least heard the call. Either way, thanks Baron for your insight and powerful thoughts.
This was my second MySQL Conference, and I hope it won't be my last. The mix of users, developers, and business professionals has always struck me as quite unique, as MySQL sits at the intersection of a number of very powerful avenues. Lets hope that O'Reilly decides to do it again, *and* lets hope that Oracle gets on board as well.