MySQL expands open-source database

The company releases a developer version of MySQL 5.0, which can create and run stored procedures, a feature common to commercial databases.

Open-source database company MySQL continues to add capabilities common to commercial database software as it tries to shake up the multibillion-dollar market.

MySQL on Monday introduced an early version of its software, which adds support for "stored procedures," a capability widely used in corporate databases for reusing database queries across different applications.

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Developers and testers can now download MySQL 5.0, which the company said will be generally available in several months.

The early, or "alpha development," release is intended to get programmers familiar with the features in the final version and to spot bugs in the existing code, the company said.

MySQL is a commercial open-source company that offers its namesake software--which volunteer open-source programmers help to develop and test--under two licenses. Customers can either download the software for free, as with other open-source products, or purchase a commercial license that includes fees to MySQL for support.

Open-source databases in the past year have experienced a spike in interest among corporate customers, according to a recent survey published by developer research company Evans Data.

Open-source databases are seen as a viable alternative to commercial databases. They are gaining many of the features important to businesses, are cheaper to purchase, and the code is generally reliable, according to Evans. MySQL and PostgreSQL are two popular open-source database products.

The addition of stored procedures to MySQL 5.0 is designed to make the database more attractive to corporate customers. But even as the company includes more high-end functions, MySQL software is considered to be best suited for relatively simple tasks.

"While it is designed to support more enterprise applications, 5.0 retains the MySQL hallmarks of high performance and stability, so it continues to be ideal for Web sites, packaged applications and other database deployments," Michael Widenius, MySQL co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement.

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