WordPress can be installed on a number of different databases outside of the dominant MySQL but it typically takes a certain level of expertise and even a bit of digital finagling. But without question, most people will find MySQL to be the defacto choice and should serve their needs well.
But over the past few years we’ve seen a number of major MySQL sites and players migrate onto other database systems for a variety of different reasons, typically surrounding performance and quickly followed by simply preference – and there’s nothing wrong with the migrations in and of themselves but I’m always curious as to why one makes such a significant and labor-intensive initiative and why someone would choose something other than MySQL.
Recently, Wikipedia, a massive site powered by MySQL, is going to be moving off of the open source solution toward another one, MariaDB, which hails itself as a “drop-in” replacement for MySQL:
MariaDB strives to be the logical choice for database professionals looking for a robust, scalable, and reliable SQL server. To accomplish this, Monty Program works to hire the best and brightest developers in the industry, work closely and cooperatively with the larger community of users and developers in the true spirit of
Free and open source software, and release software in a manner that balances predictability with reliability.
If you want to get to some of the quick and dirty, here are some important links that you’ll want to check out, specifically related to MySQL comparisons:
But why, then, is Wikipedia making the shift? Asher Feldman, the Site Architect at Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the group behind Wikipedia, shares candidly:
The main goal of migrating to MariaDB is not performance driven. More so, I think it’s in WMF’s and the open source communities interest to coalesce around the MariaDB Foundation as the best route to ensuring a truly open and well supported future for mysql derived database technology.
Performance gains along the way are icing on the cake.
Fascinating. Like I said, performance is always an issue. Here are some more specifics from Feldman:
Taking the times of 100% of all queries over regular sample windows, the average query time across all enwiki slave queries is about 8% faster with MariaDB vs. our production build of 5.1-fb. Some queries types are 10-15% faster, some are 3% slower, and nothing looks aberrant beyond those bounds.
Overall throughput as measured by qps [queries per second] has generally been improved by 2-10%. I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from this data yet, more is needed to filter out noise, but it’s positive.
That’s a nice taste of icing, especially considering how large Wikipedia is. A much smaller site wouldn’t really be noticeable but take the vast expanse that is Wiki-world, then this is fairly dramatic (if it actually and eventually works out that way).
Overall I’ll be following their migration to see how it all pans out – my interest is solely to understand the why behind their reasoning and naturally see if it makes sense for any sites that I oversee. I don’t suppose that I’ll be suddenly motivated to make a shift off of MySQL any time soon but I always leave myself open for other options.