Postgres is hot, but the developers haven’t lost their love for MySQL. here’s why
Comment: MySQL isn’t the cool kid on the database block anymore, but developers still use it anyway.
The world of data has gone gaga for Postgres, and for good reason. The open source database mainstay has increased its innovations over the past few years, providing startups and businesses with a powerful and open alternative to proprietary incumbents like Oracle. Still, while we rightly praise Postgres, we would do well to keep an eye on MySQL. Over the past few years, MySQL seems to have fallen from the spotlight, but it always exceeds Postgres in terms of installed base and adoption.
As a contributing editor of TechRepublic Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said: “… I know a lot of companies using MySQL or variations of it like MariaDB, and I don’t see them moving anytime soon. It works.”
SEE: From start to finish: how to deploy a MariaDB database server; create a database (TechRepublic Premium)
MySQL: it’s not broken, don’t fix it
This idea “just works” explains much of MySQL’s continued popularity. This, because of and despite Oracle’s ownership of the database. Oracle keeps investing in MySQL (yeah!) Or partner, owner add-ons like Heat Wave, even though he has historically pilloried his own project (boo!).
As a result of these continued investments, MySQL continues to improve what was already a great open source database. Of course, the former CEO of MySQL AB (and current CEO of HackerOne) Mårten Mickos might exaggerate his case when he argued, “Only use MySQL if you need unmatched speed, scalability and robustness”, but it is true that MySQL, decades after its first release (1995), remains a database fabulous.
Importantly, it is also a database that fits the world of SQL that most database professionals grow up with. We’ve seen so-called NoSQL databases like MongoDB and Apache Cassandra explode in popularity, but relational databases remain at the heart of much of enterprise computing. For developers who want to use the SQL skills they may have learned with Oracle and SQL Server, but who are not hampered by proprietary restrictions, they will often turn to MySQL.
And for many developers, there was not enough reason to switch from MySQL to Postgres, no matter how popular it grew.
MySQL: you don’t have to quit
“I think MySQL’s installed base is eclipsing PostgreSQL and that momentum continues. MySQL is always my choice if I need a cheap and nice way to store data that I want to do other things with later on,” Noted Nick Heudecker. This installed base is largely the result of history: many developers got their first glimpse of a full open source database with MySQL, suggested Domenic Ravita.
Since then, millions of developers have continued to turn to MySQL. Why haven’t they moved to Postgres? Some have, of course, but like a developer put it, “MySQL is easier. It’s not much easier, but for the average [Create, Read, Update, Delete] web application, it’s the first 5 minutes experience, it’s better. “This reflects Heudecker’s experience: MySQL makes it easy for a developer to get up and move around. It might not be the best database for obscure features, Goran Opacic mentionned, but “MySQL is super efficient and relevant in all things user-related.”
In short, MySQL is not going anywhere. MySQL isn’t the most popular database in Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey (that distinction goes to Redis), but it’s a safe and reliable choice for developers. It has been around for over 25 years. Chances are it’s still there for another 25.
Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the opinions expressed here are my own.