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How the MySQL Enterprise Upgrade Advisor Helps DBAs Avoid Being Bitten by Known Bugs

By: Rob Young
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In an earlier article I described how MySQL Enterprise takes the guesswork out of deciding which version of the MySQL server customers should be running by providing alerts around regularly scheduled Monthly Rapid Update and Quarterly Service Pack releases of the Enterprise Server. Being of an old school "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mindset, I understand the conservative approach most DBAs take when deciding if a new release of any software is relevant to their environment. In fact, given the monthly frequency of Enterprise maintenance releases and the work involved with upgrading, I completely understand how recipients can begin to ignore Update Alerts (unless of course a known fix is on the way). Based on feedback from customers, MySQL colleagues, and my own field experience, I recognize that while notifications around the regular Enterprise Server drops is a good thing, upgrading an existing MySQL implementation is no small task and that a major part of removing guesswork around new releases involves helping those receiving notifications better understand how they are affected.

While many customers pour over the regular Update Alerts we shoot out, our challenge as a collective Engineering team has been to help all customers standardize their applications on the most up to date, bug-free version of MySQL, meaning we need to provide an additional safety net for those who are too busy to review the Update Alerts they receive. Also, what about older, version specific bugs that lay in wait ready to create a security breach or crash condition based on certain combinations of user, database, SQL or data activity? Even smooth running systems can be impacted by bugs that have been previously reported and fixed in newer releases of MySQL. How can we help ensure such bugs are proactively identified and squashed before they surface?

In an effort to provide DBAs with a belt-and-suspenders support and alert system and to further help take the guesswork out of deciding which version of the MySQL server they should be running, MySQL Enterprise now provides the new Upgrade Advisor. The premise is simple; the Upgrade Advisor provides monitoring for specific security and crash inducing bugs that affect current versions of the MySQL Community or Enterprise Server running in an Enterprise Monitor protected environment. It also provides the recommended upgrade path to a version of MySQL that fixes any identified problems.?

What is MySQL Enterprise?

Before we delve into the Upgrade Advisor, let's get a quick understanding of the MySQL Enterprise components and how they work. In short, MySQL Enterprise is MySQL's commercial offering for businesses who want to standardize on the most up to date, secure version of MySQL. To this end, it provides the software and services needed by these companies to be successful with MySQL. MySQL Enterprise is comprised of the following:

1. Database. The MySQL Enterprise Server represents a version of MySQL that has been validated by both the MySQL Community as well as MySQL internal QA processes. In addition, it is updated with regular Monthly Update and quarterly Service Pack releases to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance. Monthly and Quarterly releases of the Enterprise Server are announced to MySQL Enterprise subscribers via version specific Update Alerts, which provide access to the binary downloads and a detailed summary of the bugs fixed in the new release.

2. Monitoring. The MySQL Enterprise Monitor is a distributed web application that is deployed within the safety of the customer firewall. The Monitor provides a global, consolidated view into the health, performance and availability of all MySQL servers and related topologies. The Monitor helps customers enforce MySQL (and customer) best practices and proactively avoid problems and outages, primarily through the deployment of automated Advisors and rules. You can learn more about the MySQL Enterprise Monitor and Advisors here: http://www.mysql.com/products/enterprise/monitor.html.

3. Support. Production Support provides 7X24 technical resources and support directly from MySQL engineers for those who have deployed MySQL as part of their business critical applications. Product support services include:
* Self help support (Online Knowledge Base)
* Problem Resolution Support
* Consultative Support

For this particular article I will focus on the MySQL Enterprise Monitor, specifically the Upgrade Advisor, which is new in the Spring 2008 Release.?

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