Many features contribute to MySQL’s standing as a superb database system. Its speed is one of its most prominent features. In a comparison by eWEEK of several databases—including MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL, IBM DB2, and Sybase ASE—MySQL and Oracle tied for best performance and for greatest scalability (see http://www.mysql.com/it-resources/benchmarks for more details). For a database long dismissed by many people, MySQL is remarkably scalable, and is able to handle tens of thousands of tables and billions of rows of data. Plus, it manages small amounts of data quickly and smoothly.
The storage engine, which manages queries and interfaces between a user’s SQL commands and the database’s backend storage, is the critical software in any database management system. MySQL offers several storage engines—previously called table types—with different advantages. Some are transaction-safe storage engines that allow for rollback of data. Additionally, MySQL has a tremendous number of built-in functions that are detailed in several chapters of this book.
MySQL is also very well-known for rapid and stable improvements. Whenever you visit MySQL AB’s site to download MySQL, you will see a stable release that has been thoroughly tested. You will also see a distribution that has undergone testing, but contains components that have not been tested as thoroughly as the standard version. This version contains everything in the latest standard version plus new features that eventually will be rolled into the standard version. Each new release comes with speed and stability improvements, as well as new features.