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MySQL database to get high-end feature

The popular open-source applications is set to get support for clustering, a feature that lets one or more databases take over if another fails.

MySQL plans to announce a higher-end addition next month that will allow more than one instance of its open-source database to take over if another fails.

The software, MySQL Cluster, is based on software called NDB Cluster that telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson developed, and then sold to MySQL in October. MySQL plans to announce the new version at its user conference from April 14 to 16, said Zack Urlocker, vice president of marketing for the Swedish company.

So-called high-availability software--which can be databases, operating systems, application servers and other packages--works by monitoring multiple versions on a network. If one instance fails, another takes over in a process called "failover."

"For business-critical applications, it'll provide subsecond failover," Urlocker said, referring to the delay between the first system crash and the second system picking up the load. The technology has been demonstrated to work with a cluster of 32 nodes protecting each other, the company has said.

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MySQL is one of a handful of open-source database programs that some analyst firms expect to become mainstream products in coming years, pressuring proprietary database sellers such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. Adding higher-end features is part of a plan by MySQL to better compete with those established players, which already support clustering.

Another new feature being added to move MySQL closer to the mainstream is support for predefined programs called stored procedures. That feature is included not only in commercial databases, but also in rival open-source databases including PostgreSQL and Firebird.

Stored-procedure support is included in MySQL version 5, a program currently in early testing, Urlocker said.

MySQL was able to add the stored procedure support by reimplementing a version of the technology used in another database program the company develops and sells, MaxDB, through a partnership with German software giant SAP, Urlocker said.

Although MySQL is moving features from MaxDB to the MySQL software and is making MySQL a certified foundation for SAP's business software, the company doesn't plan to phase out MaxDB. "We'll be supporting that for 10 or 15 years," Urlocker said.

Also at the MySQL conference in April, the company plans to announce a program to make it easier for "value-added resellers," or VARs, to work with the database company, Urlocker added. VARs typically incorporate one company's technology into a larger offering, often customized for a particular customer segment.

Through the program, it will be easier for VARs to create packages that can use a variety of database programs--from MySQL, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft or others. It also will let them dovetail with MySQL without having to sign a commercial license to use a proprietary version of MySQL's software, Urlocker said.

MySQL uses a dual-license philosophy under which it releases its software under the open-source General Public License for incorporation into other open-source software or under a commercial license for incorporation into proprietary software.

MySQL Chief Executive Marten Mickos plans to tout his company's dual-license model at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.