What is MySQL?
MySQL is one of the most recognizable technologies in the modern big data ecosystem. Often called the most popular database and currently enjoying widespread, effective use regardless of industry, it’s clear that anyone involved with enterprise data or general IT should at least aim for a basic familiarity of MySQL.
With MySQL, even those new to relational systems can immediately build fast, powerful, and secure data storage systems. MySQL’s programmatic syntax and interfaces are also perfect gateways into the wide world of other popular query languages and structured data stores.
MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Oracle that is based on structured query language (SQL).
A database is a structured collection of data. It may be anything from a simple shopping list to a picture gallery or a place to hold the vast amounts of information in a corporate network. In particular, a relational database is a digital store collecting data and organizing it according to the relational model. In this model, tables consist of rows and columns, and relationships between data elements all follow a strict logical structure. An RDBMS is simply the set of software tools used to actually implement, manage, and query such a database.
MySQL is integral to many of the most popular software stacks for building and maintaining everything from customer-facing web applications to powerful, data-driven B2B services. Its open-source nature, stability, and rich feature set, paired with ongoing development and support from Oracle, have meant that internet-critical organizations such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube all employ MySQL backends.
MySQL databases are relational
The primary factor differentiating relational databases from other digital storage lies in how data is organized at a high level. Databases like MySQL contain records in multiple, separate, and highly codified tables, as opposed to a single all-encompassing repository, or collections of semi- or unstructured documents.
This allows RDBMSs to better optimize actions like data retrieval, updating information, or more complex actions like aggregations. A logical model is defined over all of the contents of the database, describing for example the values allowed in individual columns, characteristics of tables and views, or how indices from two tables are related.
Relational models have remained popular for several reasons. They empower users with intuitive, declarative programming languages — essentially telling the database what result is wanted in language akin to, or at least comprehensible as, written english, instead of meticulously coding up each step of the procedure leading to that result. This moves a lot of the work into the RDBMS and SQL engines, better enforcing logical rules and saving valuable resources and manpower.