Drizzle: A Lean Fork of MySQL is Generating Buzz

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 23, 2008

Have you heard of Drizzle? As detailed here, it's a lightweight, open source SQL database for the cloud and the web, being designed for massive concurrency on multi-CPU/core architecture. If that sounds a lot like MySQL, it should. Drizzle's code is derived from MySQL--basically a fork of the MySQL 6.0 source code. However, it's stripped down in several ways deliberately, allowing for "refactoring," and solutions to some of the problems that MySQL runs into. Brian "Krow" Aker, who is a principal engineer at Sun, and behind the project, has a post up about it. He cites speed, simplicity and less overhead as benefits of Drizzle over MySQL. The project is up on Launchpad here for developers to work on, although you can't downlaod and use it yet. Here's more of the backstory.

You can get much good background on Drizzle from Monty's post here.  "For the last 2-3 years, Brian Aker and I have had many discussions about how to refactor MySQL," he says. "Brian has been the one driving these discussions by asking why some things in MySQL were done in a certain way and in a true 'what if' manner asked what would happen if we would do things in another way. Being tired of not being able to get critically needed reconstruction work done in the MySQL server, Brian started to work on Drizzle to search for answers to these questions." He sums Drizzle up as "a smaller, slimmer and (hopefully) faster version of MySQL."

So what's missing from Drizzle that is in MySQL? "Stored Procedures, Views, Triggers, Query Cache, and Prepared Statements are gone for now," reports Brian Akers. "The field types have been simplified and there is an open debate about the SHOW commands (I am falling into the camp that think they may just belong in the client application but not in the server)." The MyISAM-only FULLTEXT indexing system is also gone.

Monty's post also notes that "Drizzle is a version of MySQL that is driven by Brian and the community, attempting to solve practical problems that a large group of MySQL users are facing." Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has been noting, on several occasions recently, that when Sun goes around to interview IT administrators about MySQL deployments, many of them report that deployments have gone on at the departmental level, without the knowledge of the IT department.

From that last perspective, I'm wondering if Drizzle may be of interest to departmental types looking for a slimmer, faster, easier-to-oversee database. That's not how Brian Akers and others behind the project see it, though. They clearly are focusing on massively scalable cloud applications for it.

There isn't a target date for a version of Drizzle that everyone can use yet, but the idea looks interesting, and Brian Aker reports that the project has attracted many developers from outside Sun. He has a podcast up about Drizzle at LinuxWorld if you're interested in learning more.