Oracle is making the open-source MySQL database more stable and feature-rich through a shift in development philosophy, MySQL Vice President of Engineering Tomas Ulin said during a keynote address yesterday at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Ulin announced the availability of a second DMR (development milestone release) for the upcoming MySQL 5.6, as well as one for MySQL Cluster 7.2. The code should not be considered half-baked, Ulin said.

"A year ago we changed our development model. We decided to go to more incremental," he said. "With each milestone, what we strive to do is bring in only a few features and make sure they're of highest quality. We could go out today and say, this is a release candidate or this is a GA general release candidate."

MySQL 5.6 enhancements

More things will be added to 5.6 before it goes into a general release, Ulin said. Overall, enhancements to 5.6 will target the InnoDB storage engine and replication, among other areas.

Earlier, Ulin described how Oracle has released a series of new tools and features for MySQL, such as improved security, a number of commercial extensions available to enterprise edition customers, and better Windows management.

"Linux is a major platform for us, but we are very far along on Linux and have been for many years," Ulin said. Oracle's goal over time is to make the Windows MySQL deployment experience "on par" or even better than MySQL on Linux, he said.

Significant cost savings

To that end, Oracle is positioning MySQL against Microsoft SQL Server, claiming it offers significant cost savings. But Oracle has competition of its own from various MySQL offshoot projects such as MariaDB.

MySQL's future under Oracle ownership came under close scrutiny when the company moved to purchase its previous owner, Sun Microsystems. Many community members feared that Oracle would choke off MySQL in order to protect its flagship proprietary database.

One expert took a measured view of MySQL's fate so far under Oracle.

Professionalise MySQL

"I expected Oracle's acquisition of MySQL to professionalise its development," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "So far, they've seemed to live up to that."

"Oracle would rather be cannibalised by MySQL than by something it doesn't own," Monash added. "But it would much rather yet not be cannibalised at all."

OpenWorld, which continues through Thursday in San Francisco, is featuring 47 MySQL sessions overall.