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MySQL lays path for SAP integration

AMR researcher J. Paul Kirby says that SAP's continuing involvement in MaxDB and MySQL confirms its interest in promoting a low-cost alternative to Oracle's database for R/3.

At its annual users' conference and expo, MySQL AB presented a three-phase roadmap by which its two open source database products, MySQL and MaxDB, would merge into a single product line certified for use with the SAP product suite.

The Bottom Line: By committing itself to the functionality of MySQL and MaxDB in future releases, MySQL is letting customers choose between the two on their merits without fearing that either product will be abandoned.

What It Means: SAP and MySQL formed a cross-licensing partnership a year ago to develop a new open source database targeting SAP and non-SAP customers. SAP conveyed rights to its own database, SAP DB, rebranding it MaxDB to get the initiative going. SAP retains ownership over SAP DB, but MySQL has the right to develop and sell improved versions of MaxDB. SAP currently certifies MaxDB for use in R/3 and other SAP applications. But now, some of the issues raised by the move get resolved.

Lingering questions about MySQL's products are answered

MySQL and MaxDB have fairly complementary profiles. MySQL focuses on performance, stability, and ease of use and administration through a simple interface, while MaxDB provides advanced features more representative of enterprise-grade databases.

The Takeaway: Until now, whether MySQL would maintain MySQL and MaxDB as separate products, tailored for different needs, or whether it would integrate the two into a single product was an open question.

MySQL sets its sights on R/3

As MySQL aims to fuse the functionality of the two databases, it plans to retain the performance and stability of MySQL while adding the advanced functionality of MaxDB. Instead of undertaking a raw merger of the two codebases, MySQL's three-phase roadmap was drafted to capitalize on concepts from the two products to develop an integrated codebase.

Here are the three phases:

  • Interoperability for MySQL applications--The MySQL proxy server for MaxDB is being designed so that applications written for MySQL should be able to connect to a MaxDB database transparently.
  • MySQL certification for R/3--Complex features in MaxDB will be available in MySQL, including server-side cursors, read-only views, updatable views, additional error handling, referential integrity constraints, and role-based security.
  • Emergence of a single product line--MySQL and MaxDB will continue to be supported, but supplemented with a single product line.

The Takeaway: Like any attempt to join two products, MySQL's planned fusion of MySQL and MaxDB is ambitious. MySQL has its bets hedged reasonably well, since it is starting out with versions of both products already available.

SAP is committed to MySQL

Several signs point to SAP's commitment to the MySQL product line:

  • Joint collaboration--MySQL and SAP employees are actively collaborating on integrating MaxDB and MySQL and ensuring that MySQL passes SAP benchmarks.
  • Inclusion of updatable views--Even the best-of-breed databases failed to offer this advanced functionality until the last five years. It would be surprising for this to be a high priority so early in MySQL's efforts, were it not for the fact that R/3 requires updatable views for optimal performance.

The Takeaway: SAP's continuing involvement in MaxDB and MySQL confirms its interest in promoting a low-cost alternative to Oracle's Oracle Database for R/3 and other SAP applications.

Recommendations: Although MySQL and MaxDB currently have distinct characteristics, some companies using the products and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) may find their basic requirements met by either. For those on the fence, we recommend MySQL over MaxDB, since it will change the least in the near term and will probably guide the user experience of the upcoming integrated product. However, those needing the advanced functionality of MaxDB shouldn't hesitate, since MySQL is committed to ensuring that functionality available today will not disappear.

All materials copyright © 2004 of the AMR Research Inc.

AMR Research, Inc. is a source of analysis and advice for executives responsible for delivering performance enhancement and cost savings aided by technology. AMR Research aggregates best practices from leading global companies and provides tailored, actionable advice and research reports to every client. More information is available at

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