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MySQL preps business upgrade

Open-source database MySQL 5.0, which brings features aimed at corporate customers, is set for release within the next 10 days.

In an effort to attract new corporate customers, MySQL is planning to ship a major upgrade of its namesake open-source database within the next seven to 10 days.

MySQL version 5.0 is in its final phases of tracking bugs, making a release imminent, said Robin Schumacher, director of product management at MySQL. The company intends to release a "community" edition for free online under the open-source General Public License, or GPL.

Corporate customers that purchase a commercial license, which includes ongoing support, can get editions certified to run on different hardware servers and operating systems 60 to 90 days after the general availability, he said.

The release of MySQL 5.0, which has been under development for at least two and a half years, is an important step to MySQL's plans to sell its open-source software to corporations.

The database has been popular as a tool for building public Web sites or as a low-end database in business settings. The 5.0 release introduces features found in databases from incumbent corporate database providers--notably Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and Sybase.

MySQL 5.0 will add enable developers to write stored procedures, which are programs that run in a database, as well as distributed transactions. It also will support triggers, which set off an event programmatically, and views, which enable administrators to restrict portions of a database from being seen without the right authorization.

Other features expected in the upgrade include a migration toolkit, designed to simplify the process of transferring data from Oracle, SQL Server and other databases to MySQL. The upgrade will also include a specialized database Archive Engine for storing historical data.

MySQL is not the only open-source database company to take on entrenched suppliers. But it is the most popular.

A recent Evans Data survey found that 44 percent of developers use MySQL; 28 percent use Firebird; and 12 percent use PostgreSQL.

Database providers are taking notice of the popularity of MySQL and other open-source development products. For example, IBM and Oracle have reduced the prices of their low-end products.

And analysts have said Oracle's acquisition of Innobase, a five-person Finnish database company that supplies a storage engine for MySQL, indicates that Oracle is taking the potential threat from open-source databases seriously.