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Oracle announces the availability of MySQL, Cluster 7.3

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June 19, 2013

After a little over a year of development work and a few preview releases, Oracle is announcing the general availability of MySQL Cluster 7.3.

This brings a number of important new features and enhancements to the open source clustering module for the MySQL database.

But the real big news in this announcement is the long-awaited inclusion of the support of foreign key constraints, which had been one of the most requested feature enhancements for the database in the past three years.

MySQL's Cluster feature differs from its more powerful cousin, Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC), in that it uses a "shared nothing" architecture, where none of the nodes share memory or disk storage. In that implementation, its design is closer to how IBM's DB2 handles clustering than to RAC.

With MySQL Cluster 7.3, the system can now automatically enforce foreign key referential integrity between tables, regardless of whether they are located in different nodes, different partitions, or even in different data centers.

An important point to mention here is that foreign key support is also available whether the application accesses the database via SQL or via one of the various non-SQL APIs that are available, such as Java, Memcached, or HTTP/REST.

The new version's SQL layer is now based on the latest MySQL 5.6 release, which allows database admins to combine the InnoDB and MySQL Cluster storage engines side-by-side on the same MySQL 5.6 server.

MySQL Cluster 7.3 also adds another major non-SQL access method, namely JavaScript support via Node.js. This allows applications written in JavaScript to directly access MySQL Cluster data stores without translating queries to and from SQL.

However, even those users who aren't interested in the new features might want to upgrade, as version 7.3 reportedly delivers between 1.5 and 7.5 times more data throughput to cluster nodes. It does this in a manner that is completely transparent to applications, meaning system admins should see their applications' performance improve as soon as they upgrade to version 7.3.

Setting up new clusters is also easier than ever, thanks to a new auto-installer that allows IT managers and admins to graphically configure and provision a cluster within a few minutes using a browser-based interface.

The full set of changes from the previous release can be reviewed in Oracle's official release notes. MySQL Cluster is open source software released under the GPLv2 license, and Oracle also offers commercial support along with a number of proprietary add-on features in the form of its MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Edition (CGE) product.

But there are other ways to cluster a MySQL database, including ScaleDB and Galera, the latter being a set of patches that bake clustering support into the MySQL server itself.

In particular, those who have already migrated from MySQL to the competing MariaDB fork will want to consider one of the above options, as MariaDB does not support MySQL Cluster's NDB storage engine per default.

The GPL-licensed version of MySQL Cluster 7.3 is available for download from Oracle's MySQL website as of now.

In other IT industry news

Digital Equipment's old but very reliable PDP-11 minicomputers are still used quite a bit today, and we're told that they will continue to power General Electric's nuclear power plant robots until at least 2050. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

And make no mistake-- PDP-11 assembler programmers are extremely hard to find these days and will get even harder as time progresses, since the average age of such programmers is well past 60 years old.

Nevertheless, the nuclear industry is planning on keeping PDP-11s for at least another 37 years-– long enough for a couple of generations of programmers to come and go.

If you're a bit skeptical of what you just read, you might want to visit 'Vintage Computer Forums' where GE's Chris Issel has resorted to seek PDP-11 assembly programmers.

Issel is responsible for talent recrutement at GE Canada, and her post says there's a “fantastic opportunity” for a PDP-11 programmer at GE's Peterborough, Ontario operation.

“The role supports the nuclear industry who has committed to continue the use of PDP-11 until 2050”, she writes. That certainly gives PDP-11 programming a longer skill life than OpenVMS – a grandchild of the PDP-11 – which HP announced this month will begin its end-of-life march in 2015 and will lose all support in 2020.

Just remember that DEC's VAX was a 32-bit upgrade to the PDP-11, while VMS was born out of the multiuser version of the PDP series of machines built by DEC at that time.

DEC made PDP-11s from 1970 to into the 1990s, and was one of a succession of products in the PDP series. The PDP-11 replaced the PDP-8 in many real-time applications, although both product lines lived in parallel for more than ten years.

The PDP-11 had several uniquely innovative features, and was easier to program than its predecessors with its use of general registers. Its successor in the mid-range minicomputer niche was DEC's 32-bit VAX-11.

Design features of the PDP-11 influenced the design of microprocessors such as the Motorola 68000. Design features of its operating systems, as well as other operating systems from Digital Equipment at that time, influenced the design of other operating systems such as CP/M and hence also MS-DOS.

The first officially named version of Unix ran on the PDP-11/20 in 1970. It is commonly stated that the C programming language took advantage of several low-level PDP-11–dependent programming features, albeit not originally by design.

It seems that General Electric has decided that an unorthodox approach is needed to find this skill. GE had tried the more conventional approach of advertising on its recruitment site, but the ad has since been taken down.

The GE ad describes the role-- “You will lead the design, implementation and testing of legacy PDP-11 based control systems for robotic applications in nuclear power plants and products. You will also coordinate follow-on support and service of installed systems.”

Source: Oracle.

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