MySQL is a relational database management system. It is also a mouthful, and can be abbreviated as an RDMS. To break this down into more readily understandable parts, a database is an organized collection of data. A database management system is a software system that uses a standard method of cataloging, retrieving, and running queries on data. A relational database management system is a database management system coming from the relational model for database management. Now we are almost finished guiding the uninitiated through this seemingly ceaseless defining process.
The relational model is a model for database management created by Edgar F. Codd in 1969 best described by the following: “the organization of data into collections of two-dimensional tables called “relations.” These two-dimensional tables function by having the columns define attributes of the data and the relation for a table is a set of attributes which uniquely define the corresponding rows. Simple. In summary, a relational database management system is software that utilizes a method of managing the data in the applied database based off of the relational model.
MySQL is in fact one such major RDMS out on the market today. MySQL is at the time of this article’s inception, the second most popular database management system, coming in at a close second to Oracle (also an RBMS). Though, MySQL is the most popular open source database management system and it is utilized by many of the web’s most popular sites to organize their gargantuan daily influxes of data. Sites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, and craigslist all work in conjunction with a MySQL platform. It also is a major part of LAMP. LAMP is an open source enterprise software stack, the acronym standing for Linux, Apache, the M being MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl.
Microsoft SQL is a competing database management system, developed by Microsoft, and the third most popular database management system at present, though Microsoft SQL and MySQL are constantly in close contention for the second spot, and are nearly jockeying for the first spot for the world’s leading database management system. The question some may be asking now is, what does SQL stand for, and more importantly, what does it mean? SQL stands for Structured Query Language. A structured query language is a special-purpose programming language specifically designed for the relational database model as originally presented by the model’s founder in his revolutionizing publication “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks”.
Open Source Approach
A defining contrast between these RDMS’s is MySQL’s open-source approach versus Microsoft SQL’s more corporate/enterprise approach of being proprietary closed-source software. Each has its advantages. MySQL is free, which puts it at a major advantage already to some of the more penny-pinching businesses or private users out there, but also offers an Enterprise edition offering pricing for varying levels of features. With the open-source model, MySQL offers a vast, helpful community for any bugs one may run into employing their RDMS. MySQL’s primary fuel in the race to be the best is its speed. It is easily integrated with nearly anything required of it, and depending on the package, MySQL can end up being your only option for a major database management system.
Microsoft SQL does come at a cost dependent upon the edition, and there are far more editions offered, allowing more personalization for the customer’s specific needs—over a dozen choices actually. Microsoft SQL, being closed-source, has a level of compatibility with the Microsoft OS MySQL can never offer. Since everything is run through a Microsoft integrated system, the smoothness is incomparable, but surprisingly, MySQL is most commonly used in conjunction with the Microsoft OS.
Ultimately, it is impossible to say which is the “better” RDMS as both are exceptional, and leaders in the relational database management system game in their own right. It comes down to what the needs of the company or user are and the personal preference of that purchaser.
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